Yup, sugar is poison

Yup, this is why I call sugar poison!  We have already discussed how addictive it is, now read this article by Dr. Axe explaining all the dirty details!

screen-shot-2017-02-04-at-4-23-15-pm

Advertisements

Broccoli can make cells younger?

broccoli-mdWell, it’s been well-known that broccoli is good for your health in general.

But whoa, Time.com recently reported the results of a study published in Cell Metabolism where an international team of researchers headed by the Washington University School of Medicine discovered an agent “that can balance out what happens in aging cells to essentially make them behave as they would in a younger mouse. That substance, as it turns out, is also found in a number of natural foods, including broccoli, cucumbers, cabbage and edamame.”

Wow.  Even more incentive to nibble those greens!

But keep in mind, this study was on mice.  Not humans.  Not yet.

But still, this is definitely intriguing.  The article states that, “the compound, called nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), is involved in producing another compound that is critical for energy metabolism. When they gave normal aging mice infusions of NMN, they made more of that energy-fueling compound and some of the biological problems associated with aging went away. The NMN-treated animals did not gain as much weight, they were able to convert food into energy more efficiently, their blood sugar was better—even their eyesight improved. The mice receiving NMN were also able to prevent some of the genetic changes associated with aging.”

That’s my food for thought today.  Smile.

Mwah,

Valerie

Start with 2 nutritional changes

I recently had someone ask, “What would be the MOST IMPORTANT few steps to take when looking at improving nutrition/health?”  They knew they had a journey ahead, and they felt a little overwhelmed.  So to simplify initial steps to take, I narrowed it down to two nutritional changes to make ASAP.  You’ll be amazed at how these simple changes will make big improvements in how you feel!

  • ELIMINATE REFINED SUGAR.  Just do it.  Don’t argue about it or justify why you think you need it.  You don’t!  Your body just craves it because it’s like a drug!   Use maple sugar for baking if you must.  Consider stevia or honey in your tea.  But again, these are substitutes.  Do you even need these??  How much can you do without?  Lifechanging equation:   Sugar = “poison”.

           NOTE:  Per other posts, do NOT use artificial sweeteners.  “Poison” as well!

  • INCREASE THE AMOUNT OF NON-STARCHY VEGETABLES YOU EAT.  Okay, you don’t hagreen veggiesve to go overboard at first.  But begin to introduce an extra serving of a non-starchy vegetable to your meal.  Preferably GREEN ones at that!  After some time, introduce another serving to your meal.  The goal is that over time, you would be filling your plate with more of these delicious, lifesaving macronutrients, and less of junk.   For now, just know that “macro” means large-scale and “nutrient” means  a substance that provides nourishment essential for growth and the maintenance of life.  I’ll cover macronutrients in another post.
    • NON-STARCHY VEGETABLES 
      • Amaranth or Chinese spinach
      • Artichoke
      • Artichoke hearts
      • Asparagus
      • Baby corn
      • Bamboo shoots
      • Beans (green, wax, Italian)
      • Bean sprouts
      • Beets
      • Brussels sprouts
      • Broccoli
      • Cabbage (green, bok choy, Chinese)
      • Carrots
      • Cauliflower
      • Celery
      • Chayote
      • Coleslaw (packaged, no dressing)
      • Cucumber
      • Daikon
      • Eggplant
      • Greens (collard, kale, mustard, turnip)
      • Hearts of palm
      • Jicama
      • Kohlrabi
      • Leeks
      • Mushrooms
      • Okra
      • Onions
      • Pea pods
      • Peppers
      • Radishes
      • Rutabaga
      • Salad greens (chicory, endive, escarole, lettuce, romaine, spinach, arugula, radicchio, watercress)
      • Sprouts
      • Squash (cushaw, summer, crookneck, spaghetti, zucchini)
      • Sugar snap peas
      • Swiss chard
      • Tomato
      • Turnips
      • Water chestnuts
      • Yard-long beans

Bam!  That’s it for a very basic start to better nutrition.

Mwah,

Valerie

 

 

Alternatives to honey

honeybowl

So, my youngest daughter has decided she wants to try vegetarianism…and possibly become a vegan.

And being the type of mom who loves education and believes that you must know about that which you proclaim, I sent her on a mission to learn HOW to do this in a nutritious and healthy way as well as be able to answer WHY she would prefer this type of diet.

This particular daughter loves sugar.  Um, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!  And I recently came across an article that I shared with her … discussing alternatives to honey for vegans.

I thought I would share it with my readers as well for those of you pursuing the vegan lifestyle.  Click here to discover the 5 best alternatives to honey.

Have a sweet day!  🙂

Valerie

 

7 requirements in protein powders

proteinMy last post focused on 8 ingredients in protein powders to AVOID.  Today, I want to talk about what I look FOR in choosing protein powders.

Let’s first discuss the nuts (pun intended) and bolts of protein.

  • Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.  There are 22 amino acids, including 9 essential amino acids.  Essential amino acids can NOT be made by the body and therefore must come from food sources.
  • Protein doesn’t store in your system and since your body doesn’t make essential amino acids, you must get an intake daily to meet protein requirements.  It’s a nonnegotiable to health.
  • Protein is essential to health … nails and hair are made mostly of protein, protein is used to make body chemicals such as enzymes or hormones, and is the actual foundational building block of muscle, skin, cartilage, blood, and bones. Pretty vital, right?

Okay, so what do I look for in choosing my protein powder?

  1. Plant Protein – Pea Protein:  

Pea protein is manufactured from yellow peas and is allergen free.   It’s superior because it has a high digestion rate (easier to digest than meat protein) and easily absorbable by the body.  It can be used by people who struggle with lactose intolerance (no bloating or gassiness) and is an alternative to animal protein.  It’s low in calories and carbs.  Compared to whey protein, it contains about 5 grams more of protein per serving, which makes it great for burning fat, heart health, and building muscle. And to top it off, it tastes good so there’s no need to add vanilla or chocolate flavoring to mask tastes

2. Plant Protein – Cranberry Protein:

Different protein supplements provide different benefits, so I like to combine different proteins in my powder for fuller benefits.  Cranberry protein is actually derived from cranberry seeds.  While it’s only comprised of 25% protein, the reason it’s so desirable is that its the only plant protein that consists all 22 amino acids, including the 9 essential amino acids!  It’s packed with antioxidants and flavonoids (these help fight aging and disease) and includes omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids.  It possesses a neutral flavor so again, there’s no need for vanilla or chocolate flavoring to mask taste.

3. Natural flavor:

If I have the option between a natural flavor or vanilla or chocolate, I’ll go for the natural every time.

4.  Must be free of all gluten, dairy, GMO’s, soy, and artificial flavors or colors…and no added sugars.   This is a non-negotiable for me!  Nuff said…

5. Probiotics and Prebiotics

BOTH of these have such great health benefits that I won’t choose a powder without them.

PREBIOTICS

PROBIOTICS

PREBIOTICS are a special form of dietary fiber that acts as a fertilizer for the good bacteria in your gut. PROBIOTICS are live bacteria in yogurt, dairy products and pills. There are hundreds of probiotic species available. Which of the hundreds of available probiotics is best for the average healthy person is still unknown.
PREBIOTIC powders are not affected by heat, cold, acid or time. PROBIOTIC bacteria must be kept alive. They may be killed by heat, stomach acid or simply die with time.
PREBIOTICS provide a wide range of health benefits to the otherwise healthy person. Most of these have been medically proven. PROBIOTICS are still not clearly known to provide health benefits to the otherwise healthy. Some are suspected but still not proven.
PREBIOTICS nourish the good bacteria that everyone already has in their gut. PROBIOTICS must compete with the over 1000 bacteria species already in the gut.
PREBIOTICS may be helpful for several chronic digestive disorders or inflammatory bowel disease. Certain PROBIOTIC species have been shown to be helpful for childhood diarrhea, irritable bowel disease and for recurrence of certain bowel infections such as C. difficile.
Chart from https://www.prebiotin.com/prebiotics/prebiotics-vs-probiotics/

6.  Enzymes

Another non-negotiable!  I will only choose a protein powder that includes enzymes in the mix.  Cooking destroys enzymes found in raw food, and yet enzymes are the very thing that help us digest our food!  Enzymes work to break down (help you digest) your food, thereby helping with digestive discomforts (bloating, gas, and heartburn).  They also deliver nutrients from the food to your body.   Since they also help to strengthen the immune system, the less deficient you are in enzymes, the stronger your immune system will be.

7.  Vitamins and Minerals

I look at my protein shake as another supplement.  Think of the word supplement… Merriam Webster says it means “something that is added to something else in order to make it complete”. “  So if I’m drinking a protein shake, I want to use it as a supplement to my nutritional needs while I’m at it … I look for vitamins and minerals to be included in order to round out the powder.

So…I’ve been asked that if these are my 7 “requirements” in a protein powder, which one do I use?  I use Slenderiiz PureNourish from Ariix.  For full disclosure, I sell this product.  But please know I sell it BECAUSE I love it and believe in it so much!

Mwah,

Valerie

PureNourish

 

 

 

8 Protein Powder Ingredients to Avoid

spinach-shakeProtein powders are awesome.  I swear by mine and suck down a green protein drink every day!

People use protein powders for a variety of reasons, including improved athletic performance, healthy meal replacement options, meet necessary daily protein intake levels, and even improved digestion based on what’s in the powder.

Protein is a macronutrient, meaning the body needs large amounts of it (hence, “macro”). Protein helps to balance hormones; supports digestive health; is an extremely important component for building bones, muscles, skin, blood, and cartilage; boosts the immune system; curbs appetite; assists weight loss; and supports injury and illness recovery.

A quality protein drink should be made from whole food ingredients.  By including a quality protein drink in your daily regimen, you thereby help your body to achieve the optimal protein intake necessary for the aforementioned benefits.

Not all protein powders are created equal, so please read the label!  This can’t be overstated.    Here’s what you don’t want to find on the label:

1.  Gluten

Gluten has been a hot topic in recent years.  To people with sensitivities to it, it can  cause inflammation, hormonal imbalances, head aches, fatigue, skin conditions, and even mood swings.

2.  Dextrose

This is derived from starches.  It is used as an added sugar in many packaged and processed foods sweetened by the manufacturer.  The glycemic index is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale of 0 to 100.   It is based on how quickly and how much the carb raises blood sugar levels after eating.  Dextrose can increase glycemic load and can contribute to fat storage.

3.  Glucose

You might also know this by the name of “sugar”.  It is a simple sugar and a component of carbohydrates.  Again, it can raise glycemic load and contribute to fat storage.

4.  Artificial Sweeteners

While we’re talking about sugar, let’s add artificial sweeteners to the conversation!  My kids have heard me say this is “poison” over and over.  You might see the sweeteners under the following names in the chart below.  Several negative side effects can include headaches, migraines, gastric distress, depression, and weight gain.

Artificial sweeteners Sugar alcohols Novel sweeteners Natural sweeteners
Acesulfame potassium (Sunett, Sweet One) Erythritol Stevia extracts (Pure Via, Truvia) Agave nectar
Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet) Hydrogenated starch hydrolysate Tagatose (Naturlose) Date sugar
Neotame Isomalt Trehalose Fruit juice concentrate
Saccharin (SugarTwin, Sweet’N Low) Lactitol Honey
Sucralose (Splenda) Maltitol Maple syrup
Mannitol Molasses
Sorbitol

Xylitol
Advantame

Chart reference:  http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/artificial-sweeteners/art-20046936

5.  Soy

Soy protein contains phyto-estrogen, which is known to cause hormonal disturbances.  With high breast cancer risk in my family, I just steer clear of it!  Also, most soy proteins are derived from GMO sources (genetically modified organisms) with high pesticide use.  All around, it’s best to go soy-free.

6.  Casein

There are many powders on the market with casein or WPC (whey protein concentrate).  As discussed before, casein is high in lactose.  Many people who are lactose intolerant know to look for this, but for the average person, you should be aware that it can cause bloating, gas, and general gastrointestinal distress.

7.  Milk Powders or Milk Solids

In lesser quality protein powders, these skim milk powders and milk solids are added as a cheap bulking agent.  Again, they are high in lactose sugars as mentioned in casein above (with all the same potential side effects). The protein is not absorbed well by the body, so your body does not get the full protein capabilities.

8.  Vegetable Oils

Some protein powders have these oils added because they add richness to the mix.  These are high in trans fats, which are the fats that raise bad cholesterol levels.  Say no to vegetable oils!

 

Stay tuned for my next post and I’ll tell you what I LOOK FOR in a protein powder, and the one that I use…

Mwah,

Valerie

Garbage soup – get your veggies and increase water intake!

Garbage soup pot

Okay, don’t judge my garbage soup yet!  Let me explain a few things first…

I came up with this idea back when I wanted to increase my daily water intake (I always struggle with drinking enough water) AND increase the amount of veggies I was eating…aka getting more nutrient-dense food into my daily routine.

Soooo, just like a garbage omelet is an omelet with everything in the refrigerator thrown in, so it is with my garbage soup!  I take any veggies I have on hand, chop them up, throw them in the stock pot, cover with water, lace it with my seasonings, and simmer for hours.  VOILA.  Garbage Soup which is CHOCK FULL of veggies!  The liquid in it becomes rich with vitamins and minerals.  That means that when I’m drinking from the bottom of the soup bowl after I’ve eaten all those delicious vegetables, I’m also drinking water infused with vitamins and minerals from those very same veggies!

Every week I buy a head of cabbage just for this purpose. I also pick up a huge variety of fresh vegetables without any recipe in mind, but knowing I can make salads or stir fry from them.  Finally,  I also keep frozen (not canned!) veggies in my freezer for moments when I might be short on fresh options.

This is so very simple to do, and it’s my “go to” when I’m feeling hunger pains but I’m short on time for whipping up something healthy – it’s already made and ready for me so I don’t binge on something unhealthy.

Garbage soup

The recipe for the above soup:

Valerie’s GARBAGE SOUP

  • 1 head cabbage, chopped
  • 1 fresh yellow squash, sliced (I sliced them pretty, not necessary!)
  • 2 fresh zucchini (again, I sliced them pretty)
  • 2 diced, fresh tomatoes
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 bag frozen peas
  • 1 bag frozen green beans
  • Add any other veggies you might have on hand!
  • Lots of my favorite seasonings and seasoning blends

Cover the vegetables with water until totally submerged.

Bring to boil then simmer on low for a few hours.

Best calorie counter app

iphone computer paperSo I’m not as much a fan of calorie counting as I am of simply eliminating sugar, white flour products, and processed foods from my body!  And yes, this is tough.  I’m not perfect at it either, but I strive for it.  I figure if I hit the mark 85% of the time, I’m moving in the right direction!

But there are those out there who are learning to read food labels … and they are on a journey of seeing food in a whole new way and getting a grip on their health!  They might be checking out a food’s protein, sugar, vitamin, or sodium content as well as calories. Kudos to you!  And one way to become cognizant of what you’re putting into your body is to simply…track it!

In 2015, the Journal of Medical Internet Research published a study titled:  Adherence to a Smartphone Application for Weight Loss Compared to Website and Paper Diary.”

The study stated that “In recent years, research into mobile devices to facilitate dietary and physical activity self-monitoring and weight-related behavior change has grown. Mobile phones, in particular, are an intuitively appealing intervention platform given that they are ubiquitous, engaging, and portable.”  This study sought to compare the ability of participants to stay engaged with a phone app versus “two other self-monitoring interventions to allow comparison of self-monitoring on a mobile phone against other approaches.”

I bet you’re not surprised … the smartphone app won!   Over 93 percent of the app participants continued to track their weight-related behavior and calories for the duration of the entire study (six months) whereas only 55% continued in the website group and only 53 percent in the diary group.

Of all the Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 4.00.12 PMcalorie counter apps out there, My Fitness Pal comes in first, according to ratings by  Livescience.com.  The site states that the app has as many or more features in its free version as other fitness-tracking apps.  It compiles a pie chart with a breakdown of calories based on percentages from carbs, fats, and proteins…and can be seen on a daily or weekly basis.  And considering what we discussed above about tracking, a nice add-on is the notes section, where users can either journal about their food, or their thoughts, or their exercise that day.

The app keeps a running total of calories so users can see where they stand in relation to their goal intake throughout the day, and it also has a huge searchable nutrition database.  That means you’ll find the calorie count of almost any food you want to look up!

Finally, Livescience.com notes that the best feature of all is “the app’s  ability to download recipes directly into the app and get estimated calorie counts. The app will take the recipe ingredient list, cross-check it with its nutrition database, and give an estimate of calories per serving. (Users can check the app’s work and alter any calories or serving sizes that need tweaking.) For people who scour the Internet for recipes, this feature is invaluable.”

Nuff said, right?!  Sounds like a powerhouse of an app … put the power in YOUR palm!
Mwah,
Valerie

How to find a farmer’s market near you

farmer's market 2

Woohoo!  April is here… and in my world, that means FARMER’S MARKETS ARE ABOUT TO POP UP EVERYWHERE!  For those who can’t grow their own produce, this is the next best thing!  Trust me, once you get hooked on truly fresh produce, you’ll have a hard time buying at the grocer again!

I don’t know about you, but there is something earthy and comforting in attending farmer’s markets!  I get to talk to the farmers who actually grew the produce and see the fruits of the earth direct from farm to table.  Over time, I get to know the farmers by name, and I know which booth or farmer vendor I trust the most… it’s to those individuals that I return time and time again during the entire harvest season.

This is an excellent way to not only support local growers and the economy, but also ensure your produce is fresh, organic, and safe at the same time.  There is a NOTICEABLE difference in taste from a tomato at the store versus fresh from your own garden or a farmer’s market!  I wish there was a way over the internet to let you taste the difference!

An added bonus?  This is not only is this healthy for you and your loved ones, but also sets an example of a lifestyle to your children!  I have a daughter in college who goes to the farmer’s market in her town EVERY WEEKEND.  She makes an outing of it…taking her rollerblades or sneakers, she rolls/runs on the trail near the lake, then goes to the farmer’s market by the water’s edge afterward.  She strikes up conversations with the farmers, and like me, she returns to the same ones she has developed a relationship with over the weeks.  And guess what?  She’s only 20 years old!   She is striving to eat “clean” while in college.

Okay, to make it easy for you, click here  to go to the LocalHarvest website where you can search by zip code for farmer’s markets near you (search box at top of website).  You can also check your community newspapers and leaflets for information about ones that might not be listed on this site.  And finally, you can always contact a local 4H group or a university to ask to be directed to someone who can tell you about farmer’s markets in your area.

Mmmmm, I’m craving a fresh tomato after all this talk!

Chat soon!

Valerie

Container gardens – the art of growing food

I’ve been traveling the past few days and had the pleasure of visiting an incredible national treasure … Monticello.  For those who are history challenged, this is the home of Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and the third president of the United States.  Monticello is located on a gorgeous mountain in western Virginia with views of rolling hills and valleys.  And part of the beauty of the estate is not just the orchards and flower gardens, but the vegetable garden, too! OH MY … Be still my beating heart!

Monticello garden 2

 

The soil was rich, the furrows straight, and the entire vegetable garden must have reached the length of two football fields!    The garden is still farmed with primitive methods and includes an incredible variety of vegetables.  As I gazed in awe at the garden, it reminded me how we’ve lost the appreciation for growing our own food … as well as the knowledge of how to farm!

According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s  Agriculture Food and Statistics report in 2014, the number of farms in the U.S. has fallen from more than 6 million in 1935 to roughly 2 million in 2012.  The family farm is on the decline while corporate-owned farms rises!   One of the ripple effects?  The experience and knowledge of how to farm and grow sustainable gardens will disappear as these family farms disappear, too…

Monticello garden

My dad grew up on a farm in Iowa in the 1930’s.  I’m so proud of that fact!  Grandma and Grandpa were sturdy midwest folk and taught all they knew about farming to their kids, who worked alongside them on the farm.  My dad and mom went on to raise eight children (yes, I have seven siblings!) on a small parcel of land on the outskirts of an Iowan town … and as you can guess, they turned a large portion of our yard into a garden!

I grew up snapping beans and shelling peas under the maple tree in the yard, eating tomatoes like apples, and grabbing grapes off the grapevine on the way to the school bus in the fall.  We ate canned vegetables in the dead of winter and enjoyed homemade jam on homemade bread.  And that is what we are losing … the art of growing food!  And we aren’t teaching our kids!  There is knowledge in gardening that comes solely from past experiences and generational teaching.  My dad knew just what to do to make his Iowa corn grow, when to plant, when to harvest, what made great natural fertilizer, how to rotate his crops, etc.

Monticello

My encouragement to those of us who live in the suburbs and want to embrace healthy living, is to connect with our history.  LEARN gardening.  For you and your kids!  If you have a patio or a small backyard, you can plant vegetables in containers.   You can do a raised garden bed near your house.  Options.  Simple.  Start with just one type of plant.  Get your confidence up and plant more next year.  And let the kids own part of the work of “gardening” the plant.  Second best option is to hit your local farmer’s markets!  Not only do you support the local business, but you also know exactly where your food comes from!

There is such GREAT satisfaction in eating what you grew with your own hands. Your body will thank you, too!

Mwah,

Valerie