Shannon12

Five Weight Loss Friendly Snacks You Will Love

The words weight loss and snacks often appear in the same sentence. That might also bring thoughts of tasteless, cardboard, and completely unsatisfying. Let me give you my best weight-loss friendly snacks that aren't just nutritious but also delicious! What’s my criteria you ask? They have to be nutrient-dense whole foods where a little goes a long way: foods that contain protein and/or fiber.  

1 - Nuts

It’s true - nuts contain calories and fat, but they are NOT fattening! Well, I’m not talking about the honey roasted ones, of course.  Those probably are fattening. Studies show that people who eat nuts tend to be healthier and leaner. By the way, nuts also contain protein and fiber, which means a small amount can go pretty far in terms of filling you up. Not to mention the vitamins and minerals you can get from nuts! Did you know that almonds have been shown to help with weight loss? At least 10% of the fat in them is not absorbed by the body, and almonds can also help to boost your metabolism! Tip: Put a handful of unsalted/unsweetened RAW nuts into a small container and throw it in your purse or bag.  

2 - Fresh Fruit

As with nuts, studies show that people who tend to eat more fruit, tend to be healthier. (I’m sure you’re not too surprised!) Yes, fresh fruit contains sugar, but whole fruits (I'm not talking juice or sweetened dried fruit) also contain a fair bit of water and fiber; not to mention their nutritional value with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. And fresh fruit is low in calories. Fiber is something that not only helps to fill you up (known as the satiety factor) but also helps to slow the release of the fruit sugar into your bloodstream and reduce the notorious blood sugar spike. Win-win! Try a variety of fruit (apples, pears, berries, etc.) and pair that with a handful of nuts. Tip: Can't do fresh? Try Dried or frozen. Plus, they're already chopped for you.    

3 - Chia seeds

This is one of my personal favourites… Chia is not only high in fibre (I mean HIGH in fibre), but it also contains protein and omega-3 fatty acids (yes THOSE omega-3s!). As well as antioxidants, calcium, and magnesium. Can you see how awesome these tiny guys are? They also absorb a lot of liquid, so by soaking them for a few minutes, they make a thick pudding (that is delicious and fills you up). Tip: Put two tablespoons in a bowl with ½ cup of nut milk and wait a few minutes. Add in some berries, chopped fruit or nuts, and/or cinnamon and enjoy! Also you can check out this recipe for breakfast**insert chia, chocolate porridge recipe***  

4 - Boiled or poached eggs

EggsEggs are packed with nutrition and most of it is in the yolk. Egg yolk is high in lutein and vitamin A, both are important for eye function. They contain a lot of high-quality proteins and a good amount of vitamins and minerals. And recent research shows that the cholesterol in the yolks is NOT associated with high elevated cholesterol or heart disease risk. Yup, you read that right! Tip: Boil a bunch of eggs and keep them in your fridge for a super-quick (and nutritious) snack!  

5 - Vegetables

I don’t need to tell you how great these are for you, but just maybe I need to sell you on the delicious “snackability” of these nutrition powerhouses. Veggies contain fibre and water to help fill you up, and you don't need me to tell you about their vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, right? You can easily open a bag of baby carrots and/or cherry tomatoes and give them a quick rinse (they’re already bite-sized). Tip: Use a bit of dip. Have you put almond butter on celery? How about trying my new hummus recipe below?  

Conclusion:

  Go ahead and try one, or more, of these healthy snacks. Prepare them the night before if you need to. They will not be "tasteless," like "cardboard," or "completely unsatisfying." Trust me.  

Recipe (Vegetable Dip): Hummus

Hummus Makes about 2 cups
  • 1  can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained & rinsed
  • ⅓ cup tahini
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 dash salt
  • 1 dash pepper
  1. Put all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. You may need to thin it out, simply add more oil, so add it 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time and blend.
  2. Serve & enjoy!
Tip:  Use an avocado in place of the tahini.      References: https://authoritynutrition.com/20-most-weight-loss-friendly-foods/ https://authoritynutrition.com/foods/almonds/ http://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/almonds/ https://authoritynutrition.com/is-fruit-good-or-bad-for-your-health/ https://www.dietvsdisease.org/best-fruits-diabetics/ https://authoritynutrition.com/foods/apples/ https://authoritynutrition.com/fresh-vs-frozen-fruit-and-vegetables/ https://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds/ http://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/eggs/

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Shannon12

5 Reasons You Bloat More After Age 45

Bloating is generally the result of not being able to properly digest foods.  These not-so-digested foods feel like they're just sitting around causing discomfort and a general feeling of being stuffed and “gassy”. It can happen at any age but if it seems to be more frequent as you're getting older it can very well be because of your stomach's reduced ability to produce enough acid for proper digestion. Normally, when we eat cells in our stomach release more acid which is important for so many digestive processes like breaking down foods and activating enzymes.  As we age this process can become less efficient and the result can feel like it's wreaking havoc on the rest of the digestive system. Unfortunately, this can have wide-ranging effects on all of our digestion abilities “downstream” and that can result in bloating.  

Bloating Reason #1:

Sometimes our bodies are or become sensitive to the fiber in certain fruits or veggies.  This can also occur when we introduce new ones into our diet as it may take a while for our body to get used to them. Pro Tip:  Try chewing your vegetables more thoroughly, or lightly cooking or steaming raw ones.  If a fruit or veggie seems to be consistently related to bloating, try eliminating it for a few weeks and monitor your symptoms.  

Bloating Reason #2:

Decreased stomach acid can reduce the activation of a key protein-digesting enzyme “pepsin”.  This means that the proteins you eat aren't broken down as much and they can pass through your system somewhat “undigested”. Pro Tip:  You may consider reducing the amount of animal-based foods you eat and see if that helps you out.  

Bloating Reason #3:

One thing that can seriously cause bloating is when your digestive system slows down.  Then things seem to be a bit stagnant, just hanging around in there a bit (a lot?) longer than you'd like. Ginger has been found to help with digestion and reduce nausea for certain people.  And peppermint is thought to help your digestive muscles keep pushing food through, so it doesn't stay in one spot for too long. Pro Tip:  Consider drinking a digestive tea like peppermint or ginger.  See my recipe below.  

Bloating Reason #4:

All this lack of digesting in your stomach and small intestine puts extra stress on the large intestine.  The large intestine is the home of all of your wonderful gut microbes that have SO many functions in the body.  The problem is when undigested food enters the large intestine, it can feed the not-so-great microbes.  These “unfriendly” bacteria produce waste material and gas as a part of their natural metabolism.  The more of these microbes you have in your system (they will multiply if they are constantly being fed by undigested food in the large intestine), the more gas that will be produced in the large intestine. Pro Tip:  Try eating more fermented foods.  Fermented foods contain probiotics which will feed the good bacteria and microbes in your system to keep the bad guys at bay  This includes things like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi (as long as these don't cause bloating for you!).  Make sure they're unpasteurized and contain live cultures.  If you cannot tolerate dairy based yogurt and kefir dairy free options are available or you could make your own dairy free versions. You can also consider taking a probiotic supplement. Just check the label first to make sure it's right for you.  

Bloating Reason #5:

With reduced stomach acid you also have a reduction of the “activation” of several of your digestive enzymes (protein-digesting pepsin being one of them).  In order for certain enzymes to go to work digesting your food they need to be activated.  This usually happens with the assistance of stomach acid. Pro Tip:  You may consider trying an enzyme supplement to assist your body in digesting food while you work on reestablishing your own production of stomach acid (a healthy diet and lifestyle can do this!).  But before you do make sure you read the labels because some of them interact with other supplements, medications, or conditions, and may not be safe for long-term use.   Conclusion: You can try the “pro tips” I've given you in this post.  Maybe you'd prefer working with a practitioner on an elimination diet to get to the bottom of which foods you may be sensitive to?  If bloating is a serious problem you should see your doctor or alternative health care practitioner.   Recipe (Tummy Soothing Tea): Ginger Tea (This is also great for soothing a sore throat) Serves 1
  • Fresh ginger root (about 2”)
  • Hot water
  • Lemon slices (optional)
  • Honey (optional)
  1. Pour the water into a saucepan and heat it on the stove.
  2. Grate the ginger root into the saucepan.  Let it come to a boil, and then simmer for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Strain the tea into a cup with a fine mesh strainer and add lemon and/or honey as desired.
  4. Serve & Enjoy!
Tip:  If you don't want to use a grater and strainer then you can peel the ginger and thinly slice it into your cup before adding boiling water.  The pieces should be big enough that they will sink to the bottom.   References: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-menopause https://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-ways-to-reduce-bloating/ http://www.dietvsdisease.org/how-to-get-rid-of-bloating/ http://summertomato.com/too-many-vegetables-how-to-prevent-gas-and-digestive-problems-caused-by-healthy-eating http://www.precisionnutrition.com/elimination-diet https://nccih.nih.gov/health/peppermintoil https://nccih.nih.gov/health/ginger

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Shannon12

Haven't Changed Anything in Your Diet But Still Gaining Weight?

  You are positive that you're not eating more food or “junkier” food but you're still gaining weight. Is this possible? Yes!  You are NOT crazy! And here's why. We both know that the whole “calories in, calories out” argument is an overly simplistic view of weight. There's definitely more to the story than just what you're eating. A lot of this comes right down to your metabolic rate which is affected by things like your activity level, history of dieting, body composition, and even what you eat. But, let's go beyond the “eat less and exercise more” advice and dive into some of the less obvious underlying reasons why you may be gaining weight even though you're eating the same. Things like:
  • Aging
  • Hormones
  • Sleep
  • Stress
 

Aging

Funny things happen the older we get.  People commonly experience lower energy levels, more digestive discomfort, weight gain, as well as aches and pains. Aging can result in hormonal changes for both men and women.  And these can contribute to loss of some lean muscle mass, as well as increases and changes in fat storage on our bodies. The good thing is that, this is very common and not your fault one bit.  

Hormones

Your thyroid is the master controller of your metabolism and can be a massive contributor to your weight gain.  There are several things that can affect it and throw it off course. When your thyroid gets off course and produces fewer hormones your metabolism slows down.  And when your metabolism slows down you can gain weight.  Even though you're eating the same way you always have. Pro Tip: Talk with your doctor about having your hormones tested.  Make sure you ask or a Full thyroid panel that includes, Reverse T3, TSH, free T3,free T4. I have personally used the protocols in Conquering Any Disease to reverse my own hypothyroidism primarily using the healing power of food.  Not everyone is textbook so right now I am offering a package that includes a free consult.   Oh, and try the thyroid-friendly recipe that I created for you at the end of this post. (yum).  

SleepGet the recommended hours of sleep.

There is plenty of research that shows the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate and as we age it can become harder and harder to get a good night's sleep. The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night to help avoid weight gain.It's true!  Lack of sleep is linked with weight gain. Who ever thought you can sleep off your weight? Pro Tip: Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night.  The first place to start is by adopting a calming bedtime routine that suites you (such as a hot bath or essential oils or herbal tea); and most importantly laying off the electronics screen time at least an hour before bed.  

Stress

It seems to be everywhere!  So many things that can cause stress responses in your body. And you know that stress hormones are not going to help you sustain healthy habits or maintain a healthy weight, right? While you can't necessarily change the stressors, you can try to adjust your stress response to them. Pro Tip:  Try meditation or yoga.  Or even mindful eating.  What about those new adult coloring books that are all the rage now?  

Conclusion:

There are lots of factors that can affect your weight, even if you're eating the same way you always have.  Aging, hormones, stress, and sleep are all interconnected to each other and can all contribute to weight gain, even if you're eating the same way you always have.  

Recipe (Thyroid friendly iodine): Seaweed Sushi Bowl

Serves 2
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 avocado (thinly sliced)
  • ½ cucumber (diced)
  • ½ red pepper (thinly sliced)
  • 1 green onion (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp dried seaweed (arame, wakame, or crumbled nori sheets)
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp gluten-free tamari sauce
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • ½ garlic clove
  • dash salt and pepper
  1. Split the first seven ingredients into two bowls.
  2. Mix the rest of the ingredients together to make the dressing.
  3. Pour the dressing over the sushi bowls.
Serve & Enjoy! Tip:  This is a great lunch to take on the go.  Keep dressing in a separate container so you can give it a shake before adding it onto the sushi bowl.  

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/lose-weight-in-menopause/ http://www.precisionnutrition.com/sleep-stress-and-fat-loss[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Shannon12

Three Important Nutrients if You're Over the Age of 45

Unfortunately, there are just some all-too-common nutrients that we simply don't get enough of that are crucial for optimal health and wellness.  Especially as we age. I sifted through the top nutrients and boiled them down to three that can have the best effect for us.

Vitamin D

It's the “sunshine vitamin”. Vitamin D is very important for everyone, but especially women over 45.  Want to know why? It helps to protect our bones! Vitamin D helps our body absorb and keep the calcium we get from our food and drinks.  And we all know that calcium is one of the main things our bones are made of. Want to know something funny about vitamin D (but it's true, I swear)? People who get enough vitamin D tend to fall less frequently.  Especially as we get older. Seriously! By far the best way to get Vitamin D is to get brief exposure for 15-20 minutes per day when the sun is low.

Magnesium

Magnesium is an essential mineral needed for over 300 reactions in your body. As with vitamin D, it's very common for us to simply not get enough, not even the 320 mg per day that's recommended. Low levels of magnesium have been linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, low bone density, and even migraines. Magnesium is found in so many healthy whole foods like beans, nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables.  In fact, the magnesium element is central to a plant's chlorophyll – it's actually what causes green plants to be green!  And most of us just don't get enough greens into our bodies on a regular basis.  (You know I have a delicious recipe with leafy greens for you below, right?).  

Omega-3s

We've all heard that we need to get more omega-3 essential fatty acids, right?  They're good for our hearts, brains, and help to reduce inflammation. But not all of us are ready, willing, and able to eat fish three times per week.This is one of the few times that I will recommend using a supplement as it is very difficult to get the optimum amount of Omega-3’s otherwise. While fish oil supplements contain the “brain healthy” fats called EPA and DHA, those two are not technically the “essential” fats.The plant omega-3 known as ALA is essential and that is because our bodies can convert ALA into EPA and DHA when necessary. The best whole food sources of Omega-3's are wild salmon, hemp and chia seeds, and walnuts. As an oil, you can add to your diet (and especially for my Vegan friends) Nordic Naturals' Algae Omega and I currently use Melaleuca’s Omega-3. This product is plant-based and has those essential ALA fats.      

Conclusion:

Three nutrients to consider now that you're 45 are: vitamin D, magnesium, and omega-3s. Of course if you have any medical conditions or take medications, it's always a good idea to speak with your doctor before starting anything new.  

Recipe: Salmon Quinoa Buddha Bowl

(Serves 2)
  • 4 cups baby spinach kale mix
  • 1 cup quinoa (cooked)
  • 2- 3oz wild salmon fillets
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • ½ red onion (diced) (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • dash salt and pepper
  • optional toppings: craisins, goji berries, walnuts, pecans.
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees, Apply 1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil on small baking sheet. Place salmon, skin side down, and bake in oven for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Split spinach, quinoa, sesame seeds, and onion (if using) between two bowls Add each salmon fillet on top of ingredients.
  3. Mix sesame oil, rice vinegar, and lemon juice together and pour on top of prepared Buddha bowls.
  4. Garnish with additional toppings such as walnuts for a boost in Omega-3.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.Serve & Enjoy!  References: https://authoritynutrition.com/11-natural-menopause-tips/ https://examine.com/supplements/Vitamin+D/ https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-Consumer/ https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/
 

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Shannon12

Five Cholesterol Myths and What to Eat Instead

Image result for cholesterol

Myth #1: “Cholesterol” is cholesterol

What cholesterol is bound to while it's floating through your blood is what's more important than just how much of it there is overall.  In fact, depending on what it's combined with can have opposite effects on your arteries and heart. Cholesterol is just one component of a compound that floats around your blood.  These compounds contain cholesterol as well as fats and special proteins called “lipoproteins”. These lipoproteins are grouped into two main categories:
  • HDL: High Density Lipoprotein (AKA “good” cholesterol) that “cleans up” some of those infamous “arterial plaques” and transports cholesterol back to the liver.
  • LDL: Low Density Lipoprotein (AKA “bad” cholesterol) that transports cholesterol from the liver (and is the kind found to accumulate in arteries and become easily oxidized hence their “badness”).
Each of these categories is further broken down into subcategories which can also be measured in a blood test. Cholesterol isn't simply cholesterol because it has very different effects on your body depending on which other molecules it's bound to in your blood and what it is actually doing there.  

Myth #2: Cholesterol is bad

Cholesterol is necessary for your body to produce critical things like vitamin D, sex hormones (e.g. estrogen and testosterone), as well as bile to help you absorb dietary fats. The overall amount of cholesterol in your blood (aka “total cholesterol”) isn't nearly as important as how much of each kind you have in your blood. While way too much LDL cholesterol as compared with HDL (the LDL:HDL ratio) may be associated with an increased risk of heart disease, it is not the only thing to consider for heart health.  

Myth #3: Eating cholesterol increases your bad cholesterol

Most of the cholesterol in your blood is made by your liver.  It's actually not from the cholesterol you eat. This is why cholesterol medications actually focus on blocking an enzyme in your liver.  

Myth #4: Your cholesterol should be as low as possible

As with almost everything in health and wellness, there's a balance that needs to be maintained.  There are very few extremes that are going to serve you well. People with too-low levels of cholesterol have increased risk of death from other non-heart-related issues like certain types of cancers, as well as suicide.  

Myth #5: Drugs are the only way to get a good cholesterol balance

While drugs can certainly lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol, they don't seem to be able to raise the “good” HDL cholesterol all that well. Don't start or stop any medications without talking with your doctor. Nutrition and exercise can help lower those LDL ("bad") levels and raise HDL ("good") levels. One of the best ways to lower your cholesterol with diet is to eat lots of fruits and veggies (about 10 servings a day). Sign up for the High Vibe Green Smoothie Challenge. Its a great way to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your daily diet and get yummy recipes. When a client couldn't take any of the cholesterol medications her physician prescribed due to severe reactions she was experiencing, she reached out to me to see if I had something she could do using food. We have documented proof from blood work that she had seen a nearly 300 point reduction in her LDL (the bad cholesterol) levels using the protocols in the Conquering ANY Disease Manual.  

Summary:

The science of cholesterol and heart health is complicated and we're learning more every day.  You may not need to be as afraid of it as you are.  There is a lot you can do from a nutrition and lifestyle perspective to improve your cholesterol level.  

Recipe: Orange Hemp Seed Dressing (The recipe included below can help you add at least another salad to your day.)

Makes about ¾ cup
  • ½ cup hemp seeds
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • dash salt and/or pepper
Blend all ingredients together until creamy. Serve on top of your favorite salad and Enjoy! *Tip: Store extra in airtight container in the fridge.  Will keep for about a week.*  

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-cholesterol http://summertomato.com/how-to-raise-your-hdl-cholesterol https://authoritynutrition.com/top-9-biggest-lies-about-dietary-fat-and-cholesterol/'

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Shannon12

Why is My Metabolism Slow?

You may feel tired, cold, or that you've gained weight.  Maybe your digestion seems a bit more “sluggish”. You may be convinced that your metabolism is slow.Image result for lack of sleep Why does this happen?

What can slow my metabolism?

Metabolism includes all of the biochemical reactions in your body that use nutrients and oxygen to create energy.  There are lots of factors that affect how quickly (or slowly) it works, i.e. your “metabolic rate” (which is measured in calories). But don't worry – we know that metabolic rate is much more complicated than the old adage “calories in, calories out”!  In fact, it's so complicated I'm only going to list a few of the common things that can slow it down.
  • low thyroid hormone
  • history of dieting
  • body size and composition
  • activity level
  • lack of sleep
We'll briefly touch on each one below and I promise to give you better advice than just to “eat less and exercise more”.

Low thyroid hormones

Your thyroid is the master controller of your metabolism.  When it produces fewer hormones, your metabolism slows down.  The thyroid hormones (T3 & T4) tell the cells in your body when to use more energy and when to become more metabolically active.   Ideally, it should work to keep your metabolism just right. However, there are several things that can affect it and throw it off course such as autoimmune diseases and mineral deficiencies (e.g. iodine or selenium). Tip: Talk with your doctor about having your thyroid hormones tested.

Your history of dieting

When people lose weight, their metabolic rate often slows down.  This is because the body senses that food may be scarce and adapts by trying to continue with all the necessary life functions and do it all with less food.  While dieting can lead to a reduction in amount of fat, it unfortunately can also lead to a reduction in the amount of muscle you have.  As you know, more muscle means faster resting metabolic rate. Tip: Make sure you're eating enough food to fuel your body without overdoing it.

Your size and body composition

In general, larger people have faster metabolic rates.  This is because it takes more energy to fuel a larger body than a smaller one. However, you already know that gaining weight is rarely the best strategy for increasing your metabolism. Muscles that actively move and do work, need energy.  Even muscles at rest burn more calories than fat.  Thismeans that the amount of energy your body uses depends partly on the amount of lean muscle mass you have.Image result for slow metabolism Tip: Do some weight training to help increase your muscle mass.

Your activity level

Aerobic exercise temporarily increases your metabolic rate.  Your muscles are burning fuel to move and do “work” and you can tell because you're also getting hotter. Even little things can add up.  Walking a bit farther than you usually do, using a standing desk instead of sitting all day, or taking the stairs instea d of the elevator can all contribute to more activity in your day. Tip:  Incorporate movement into your day.  Also, exercise regularly.

Lack of sleep

There is plenty of research that shows the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate.  The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Tip: Try to create a routine that allows at least 7 hours of sleep every night.   

Now there's an excuse to eat chocolate pudding that's also a delicious thyroid-loving mineral-containing recipe for breakfast or dessert. Check out the recipe below.

Recipe (Selenium-rich): Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

(Serves 4)
  • ½ cup Brazil nuts
  • 2 cups water
  • nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth (optional)
  • ½ cup chia seeds
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cacao powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  1. Blend Brazil nuts in water in a high-speed blender until you get smooth, creamy milk.  If desired, strain it with a nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth.
  2. Add Brazil nut milk and other ingredients into a bowl and whisk until combined.  Let sit several minutes (or overnight) until desired thickness is reached.
Serve & Enjoy!

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/metabolic-damage http://www.precisionnutrition.com/thyroid-and-testing http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-energy-balance https://authoritynutrition.com/6-mistakes-that-slow-metabolism/ https://authoritynutrition.com/10-ways-to-boost-metabolism/ http://summertomato.com/non-exercise-activity-thermogenesis-neat

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Shannon12

High-Vibe Chocolate Mousse Recipe

Guilt-free decadence...this dessert is about to blow your mind! It's thick and rich, full of chocolate flavor. Avocados are one of the healthiest foods you can add to your diet and can help lower bad cholesterol as well as  they are high in fiber, vitamin C and E, several B vitamins, and potassium (about 40% more than a banana). What's great about using avocados is that they add the creamy texture to any dessert or smoothie.

Vegan Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients (serves 1-2): 1 large ripe avocado (or 2 Haas) 1/4 cup raw cocoa powder 1/4 cup coconut milk or almond milk 2 tsp stevia (or other natural sweetener) 1 tsp natural vanilla extract *For a spicy twist add 1/4 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp chili powder Optional ingredients: toasted sliced almonds, chia seeds, mixed berries, almond butter, cocoa nibs.

Directions:

  • Purée the avocado until smooth, you can use your blender :)
  • Mix together the cocoa powder and milk until combined and then add to the pureed avocado.
  • Stir in the stevia (or other natural sweetener), vanilla extract, and any extra ingredients.
  • Mix well. Taste, add more sweetener as needed.
  • Transfer the mousse to individual bowls and store in the fridge until ready to eat.

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Shannon12

Bye Bye, Sleeping Through the Night.

Are you feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day? Do not fear, I have some great tips (and an amazing recipe) for you!  

The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing

Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we're just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of the factors that can affect it. Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind.  People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation.  And don't forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills. Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? (Gasp!). OMG – What aspect of health does sleep not affect??? Knowing this it's easy to see the three main purposes of sleep:
  • To restore our body and mind: our bodies repair, grow and even “detoxify” our brains while we sleep.
  • To improve our brain's ability to learn and remember things, technically known as “synaptic plasticity”.
  • To conserve some energy so we're not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day.
Do you know how much sleep adults need?  It's less than your growing kids need but you may be surprised that it's recommended that all adults get 7 - 9 hours a night.  For real! Try not to skimp! (Don't worry, I have you covered with a bunch of actionable tips below.)  

Tips for better sleep

  • The biggest tip is definitely to try to get yourself into a consistent sleep schedule. Make it a priority and you're more likely to achieve it.  This means turning off your lights 8 hours before your alarm goes off.  I know weekends can easily throw this off but by making sleep a priority for a few weeks your body and mind will adjust and thank you for it.
  • Balance your blood sugar throughout the day by eating less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fiber).  Choose the whole orange instead of the juice (or orange-flavored snack).  Make sure you're getting some protein every time you eat.
  • During the day get some sunshine and exercise. These things tell your body it's daytime; time for being productive, active, and alert.  By doing this during the day, it will help you wind down more easily in the evening.
  • Cut off your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12pm. Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine, it's the “added” sugar we're minimizing.  Yes, this includes your beloved chai latte.  Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to be come evening. (HINT: I have a great caffeine-free chai latte recipe for you below!).
  • Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour before your “lights out” time (that is 8 - 10 hours before your alarm is set to go off). This would include dimming your artificial lights, nixing screen time, and perhaps reading a real book or having a bath.
So how many of these tips can you start implementing today?   Recipe (Caffeine-free latte for your afternoon “coffee break”): Caffeine-Free Chai Latte Serves 1-2 Image result for caffeine free chai latte 1 bag of rooibos chai tea (rooibos is naturally caffeine-free) 2 cups of boiling water 1 tablespoon tahini 1 tablespoon almond butter (creamy is preferred) 2 dates (optional)
  1. Cover the teabag and dates (if using) with 2 cups of boiling water and steep for a few minutes.
  2. Discard the tea bag & place tea, soaked dates, tahini & almond butter into a blender.
  3. Blend until creamy.
  4. Serve and Enjoy!
*TipYou can try this with other nut or seed butters to see which flavor combination you like the best.  Cashew butter anyone?  

References:

http://www.thepaleomom.com/gotobed/ http://www.precisionnutrition.com/hacking-sleep

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Shannon12

Losing Strength? This Hormone Can Help

Yes, we're talking testosterone, the muscle-building hormone.  I'm not going to recommend that you take any anabolic steroid hormones or anything like that. Here are two solid tips on how you can boost your testosterone levels naturally with supplements.

Tip #1: Get enough zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral that helps with a number of processes in your body (it helps over 300 enzymes).  Zinc helps your immune system, helps to produce critical proteins and DNA, and also helps with wound healing.  Enough zinc is necessary to maintain healthy skin and for optimal ability to taste and smell.  Zinc is an antioxidant and can be supplemented to support optimal levels of testosterone because it helps the enzymes that converts cholesterol into testosterone. Zinc is found mostly in red meat, poultry, egg yolks, and shellfish; some plants can also provide zinc such as beans and nuts.  The best dietary source is oysters.

The daily recommended dose of zinc for men is 11 mg/day (for women it's 8 mg/day).  Low zinc levels are rare but tend to occur in vegetarians/vegans, athletes, and people who sweat a lot (zinc is lost in sweat).  Low zinc levels have been linked to low testosterone levels.

Of course if you don't get enough zinc in your diet you can always supplement.  Before you do, however, consider a few things:

  • It is possible to get too much zinc so unless your doctor tells you never take more than 40 mg/day. For many people just 5-10 mg/day is enough to prevent deficiency.
  • Zinc supplements can also interact with certain medications so be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist to find out if zinc supplements are safe for you.
  • Zinc supplements are best taken 2-hours away from any medications (if it's safe to use it at all while taking those medications) and should be taken with food.

Tip #2: Get enough vitamin D

Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin” is actually the most common nutrient that we in North America just simply don't get enough of.  Not only is it not very abundant in foods but most places far from the equator don't get enough sunlight to produce adequate levels year round. Hello winter; goodbye sunshine vitamin. Vitamin D is known to help us absorb calcium from our foods and is also necessary for our immune system, nervous system, and muscular system.  As with zinc, if you're deficient in this nutrient you may experience increased testosterone levels after supplementing. Vitamin D deficiency is most commonly associated with bone conditions such as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. It is a fat-soluble vitamin and is found in fatty fish, organ meats, and egg yolks.  Unfortunately it isn't abundant in most other non-fortified foods. The bottom line with vitamin D is that you may need to supplement. Of course if you're always outside in the sun or eat fatty fish every day, you may be the exception.  You can always ask your doctor to check your blood levels to be sure because vitamin D is another one of those nutrients where more is not always better. Here are a few tips to supplement with vitamin D safely and effectively:
  • Read your labels and don't overdo it. Never supplement with more than 4,000IU/day unless supervised by your doctor.
  • As with zinc (and most other supplements) you should check with your doctor or pharmacist if you're taking any medications.
  • Take your vitamin D with some fat to help your body absorb this vitamin. It is often recommended that you take it with the largest meal of the day.
  • Note that vitamin D is also found in cod liver oil, and multivitamins, so you may not need to take it separately (read your labels).

Summary:

If you aren't getting enough zinc and/or vitamin D every day your testosterone levels may be a bit low but don't overdo these two essential nutrients. Recipe (vitamin D and zinc): Honey Sesame Salmon  (Serves 4) 2-3 lbs salmon fillets ¼ cup soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos ¼ cup sesame oil 1 lemon, juiced 2 tablespoons honey or coconut nectar 1” of ginger, shredded or 1 teaspoon ginger powder 1 tablespoon coconut oil 2 tablespoons diced green onions or chives 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • Mix soy sauce/tamari/aminos, sesame oil, lemon juice, honey/coconut nectar and ginger together to make a marinade.
  • Place salmon in a glass dish and cover with marinade.  Let sit for a few hours or overnight.
  • Heat a large cast iron frying pan over medium heat and add coconut oil.
  • Place salmon in pan skin side down and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Pour marinade into the pan, lower the heat and cook for 3-5 more minutes or until salmon flakes easily with a fork.
  • Sprinkle with diced green onions/chives and sesame seeds.
Serve and Enjoy! Tip:  Wild salmon can contain up to 4 times the amount of vitamin D as farmed salmon.  

References:

https://examine.com/nutrition/how-can-i-increase-testosterone-naturally/ http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/reference/table/ref_elements_tbl-eng.php http://thewellnessbusinesshub.com/yes-nutrient-deficiencies-heres-proof-can/ https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-Consumer/ http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/atReq.do?atid=zinc.mono&lang=eng https://examine.com/supplements/Zinc/ https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-Consumer/ http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=183&lang=eng https://examine.com/supplements/Vitamin+D/ https://authoritynutrition.com/8-ways-to-boost-testosterone/ https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show?ndbno=15087&fg=&man=&lfacet=&format=Abridged&count=&max=25&offset=0&sort=c&qlookup=&rptfrm=nl&nutrient1=328&nutrient2=309&nutrient3=&subset=0&totCount=5376&measureby=m https://authoritynutrition.com/9-foods-high-in-vitamin-d/  

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Shannon12

Three Ways to Avoid Overeating at Meals

Three Ways to Avoid Overeating at Meals

Sometimes those holiday feasts are just amazing. And it's not just the abundance of delicious food but also the people, the decorations, and the ambiance. It is way too easy (and common) to indulge on those days. But it doesn't always stop there. Sometimes we overeat on regular days. Or at regular meals. Or All. The. Time. Here are three tips to avoid overeating at meals. (Psst, turn these into habits and ditch the willpower!)

Tip #1: Start with some water

When your stomach is growling and you smell amazingly delicious food it's too easy to fill a plate (or grab some samples with your bare hands) and dive into the food. But did you know that it's possible to sometimes confuse the feeling of thirst with that of hunger? Your stomach may actually be craving a big glass of water rather than a feast. Some studies have shown that drinking a glass or two of water before a meal can help reduce the amount of food eaten. And this super-simple tip may even help with weight loss (...just sayin'). Not only will the water start to fill up your stomach before you get to the buffet, leaving less room for the feast but drinking enough water has been shown to slightly increase your metabolism. Win-win!

Tip #2: Try eating “mindfully”

You've heard of mindfulness but have you applied that to your eating habits? This can totally help you avoid overeating as well as having the added bonus of helping your digestion. Just as being mindful when you meditate helps to focus your attention on your breathing and the present moment being mindful when you eat helps to focus your attention on your meal. Do this by taking smaller bites, eating more slowly, chewing more thoroughly, and savouring every mouthful. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture. Breathe. This can help prevent overeating because eating slower often means eating less. When you eat quickly you can easily overeat because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full. So take your time, pay attention to your food and enjoy every bite. Bonus points: Eat at a table (not in front of the screen), off of a small plate, and put your fork down between bites.

Tip #3: Start with the salad

You may be yearning for that rich, creamy main dish. But don't start there. (Don't worry, you can have some...just after you've eaten your salad). Veggies are a great way to start any meal because they're full of not only vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and health-promoting phytochemicals but they also have some secret satiety weapons: fiber and water. Fiber and water are known to help fill you up and make you feel fuller. They're “satiating”. And these secret weapons are great to have on your side when you're about to indulge in a large meal.

Summary:

Have your glass of water, eat mindfully, and start with your salad to help avoid overeating at meals. Recipe (Water): Tasty (and beautiful) Pre-Meal Water Ideas If you're not much of a plain water drinker or need your water to be more appealing to your senses here are five delicious (and beautiful looking) fruit combos to add to your large glass of water: ● Slices of lemon & ginger ● Slices of strawberries & orange ● Slices of apple & a cinnamon stick ● Chopped pineapple & mango ● Blueberries & raspberries Tip: You can buy a bag (or several bags) of frozen chopped fruit and throw those into your cup, thermos, or uber-cool mason jar in the morning. They're already washed and cut and will help keep your water colder longer. References: https://authoritynutrition.com/7-health-benefits-of-water/ http://summertomato.com/the-science-behind-mindful-eating-what-happens-to-your-body-during-a-mindful-meal

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