What Kind Of Milk Do You Put In Your Daily Coffee?

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Many coffee shops have started carrying alternatives to Cow’s milk. Until recently, Soy Milk was the the only alternative to milk that was offered. Now, you might find options like Almond Milk or Coconut Milk. (How exciting!) You might be curious as to why you would switch over to a milk-alternative if you are not lactose intolerant. Well, I am here to give you 2 nutritional reasons why you might consider making the switch.

1. Most coffee shops do not carry Organic Milk. You may know my recommendations already, however, if you haven’t heard me say this before… “If there is one thing that you should choose to buy Organic, it should be animal products.” Unfortunately, in this country, most of the cows are treated with antibiotics and hormones. That means that consuming non-organic dairy on a daily basis exposes you to high levels of hormones which in turn disrupts your natural hormone levels. By the way, you do not have to be a female to experience changes in your hormones! Shifts in our food system are playing a big role in the increased infertility levels, estrogen dominance in both males and females, and fluctuations in testosterone levels.

2. Dairy is one of the top 7 food sensitivities. That means that dairy can still be negatively affecting your health even if you are no “allergic” to it. If you are “sensitive” to dairy, you may experience symptoms such as gas, bloating, mucus (flem, snot, congestion), itchy throat, eczema or other skin conditions.

Now you might ask, what dairy-alternatives do I recommend?

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I suggest choosing unsweetened Almond Milk and unsweetened Coconut Milk. (Hemp Milk and Rice Milk and Cashew Milk are also good options but they are not offered at coffee shops..yet) If you are getting them at a coffee shop, they may only have the sweetened version. In that case, you may want to consider adding less sweetener or no sweetener at all.

I also recommend steering clear of Soy Milk. Soy is one of the most commonly genetically-modified crops, so it is best to choose organic soy or soy that is marked “non-GMO” when you can. Most coffee shops do not offer organic or non-GMO soy milk. Similar to Cow’s milk, Soy can enhance estrogen levels in the body. Soy is also on the top 7 Most Common Food Sensitivities list.

When you first switch over to a dairy-alternative, it is clearly not going to taste exactly the same as the milk that you have been drinking for years. However, if you give it a chance for at least 1 week, you will begin to adjust to the new flavor. I can speak from personal experience, it does not taste “bad,” it just tastes “different” at first.

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Homemade Pumpkin Bread (Gluten Free)

I am not much of a baker. Yet for some reason, this pumpkin bread recipe from the Comfy Belly blog, was calling my name yesterday (aka the first day of fall). It is such an easy recipe to make and the spices really won my tastebuds over.

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Oftentimes gluten-free bread has a chalky or crumbled texture. This recipe definitely breaks that stereo type. The pumpkin puree keeps the texture nice and fluffy.

Ingredients
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned)
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
2 eggs
2 cups almond flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp  each:
sea salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, ginger
1/2 cup walnuts

Directions
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F degrees
2. Combine the wet ingredients in a bowl, whisk.
3. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.
4. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Mix well (no clumps)
5. Fold in walnuts
6. Using organic butter or melted coconut oil , grease a bread pan. Pour mixture into bread pan and bake for 40 minutes (or until outside is brown.) When it’s done, a toothpick inserted in the middle will come out clean.

If you live in San Diego and are looking for some healthy holiday recipes, join me for my Healthy Holiday Cooking Series. These classes are a great way to learn how to cook with healthier ingredients. We will discuss the benefits of using natural sweeteners and flours and how to improve your nutrition during this holiday season.

So Many Protein Bars To Choose From!

Okay, fine, I’ll help you out a little bit. It is a huge challenge to choose a good protein bar because there are way too many choices. The truth is that most protein bars have tons of processed ingredients that aren’t good for our health. The biggest problem that I have with protein bars is quality and quantity of sugar used to sweeten them. There are also usually way too many ingredients smooshed together in 1 bar.

While my preference is to eat real “whole foods,” I do understand that there are times where we have to make some exceptions. Protein bars and protein powder are to be used as a supplemental snack/meal in addition to an already existing whole foods diet.  They are not meant to be a replacement for a whole foods diet.

I just found my new favorite pre-workout bar and I am more than happy to share the secret. RISE protein bars! There are several flavors, however don’t be fooled– only 2 of the flavors are protein bars, the rest are “energy bars,” which contain much higher sugar levels and barely any protein. The two flavors that are on the ‘Nourished-Balance’ approved-list are:

  • Crunchy Carob Chip
  • Honey Almond

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These tasty little bars have 17grams of protein. Both of these bars are gluten free as well. There are 13 grams of sugar in each of the bars, which is considered pretty high for a snack. In nutrition there is always a better & best option. These bars would be considered a “better” option because they use higher quality sugars than most of the other bars on the market.

The ingredient list for Crunchy Carob Chip includes: almonds, organic agave, whey protein isolate, carob powder and crisp rice.

The ingredient list for the Honey Almond Bar is: honey, almonds, whey protein isolate

The bars are available on Amazon or at Whole Foods (and if you buy the whole box you get 10% off). My local health food store, Jimbo’s…. Naturally, also carries these yummy snacks.

If you still don’t like either of these options, you can try my homemade protein bar recipe. (coming soon!)

Kale & Almond Pesto

You are most likely familiar with the classic pesto made with basil and pine nuts. Today, we are about to take pesto to a whole new level. In 10 minutes, you will have a delicious alternative pesto that will add a flavor kick to many of your favorite foods.

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Some suggested uses for pesto include:

  • Spread on a wrap or sandwich
  • As a pasta sauce
  • Combined with your favorite whole grain salad
  • As a dip for veggie sticks/ whole grain crackers
  • With your eggs or tofu in the morning

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1 small bunch of kale (dinosaur or curly kale), de-stemmed
  • 3 basil leaves
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 medium clove of garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or more for creamier consistency)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (to taste)

How to:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F degrees. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and spread almonds out evenly. Place in oven for 10 minutes or until toasted. (Be sure not to burn.)
  2. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp sea salt over kale in a bowl and massage for 3 minutes (or until wilted).
  3. Blend all ingredients into food processor until well combined. For creamier pesto, add more olive oil.

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Nutrition fact: Consider this pesto as a healthy fat addition to your snacks and meals. The almonds and olive oil will keep you feeling full for longer when combined with a carbohydrate and/or a protein. Plus this pesto gives you a great excuse to sneak more leafy greens and  herbs into your diet.

Eating Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat

Fat is commonly scrutinized by the conventional ‘diet & health’ world. While there are some unhealthy fats (namely trans fats) it is important to understand that we need fat in our diet.

The common thought is that “fat makes you fat,” which is actually very misleading. Fat plays several important roles in the diet:

1. It helps the body absorb the fat soluble vitamin: A,D,E & K.

2. It helps keep us full for longer. This feeling of satiety will prevent us from snacking & overeating.

3. Helps to stabilize insulin (or blood sugar) levels.

4. Plays a vital role in brain development

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Here are some examples of healthy forms of fat that you can add to your meals:

  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Avocado
  • Nuts & Seeds
  • Cheese (go for full fat or low-fat… choose lower caloric cheeses)

Now that you know some healthy fats to add into your diet, it would be helpful to know what fats to avoid. TRANS Fats are found in many packaged food products. You want to avoid these fats as they are linked to cancer, weight gain and diabetes. You also want to avoid vegetable oils, sunflower and safflower oils.

Small changes will help you reach your goals!

 

 

Spring Salads- Build Your Own @ Home

Spring Salad Components (Build Your Own @ Home)

Having one salad a day can ensure that you get some added veggies into your diet. Many of us only eat the vegetables on sandwiches, burgers or tacos for lunch. Here are some great salad components that you can put together for a hearty lunch or dinner salad.

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Base

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Mixed Greens
  • Chard
  • Mustard greens

Carbohydrate (give your salad some substance!)

  • Quinoa
  • Adzuki Beans
  • Brown Rice
  • White Beans
  • Chick peas
  • Roasted veg (beets, carrots, sweet potato)

Protein 

  • Wild Salmon, Talapia, Halibut, fresh or canned tuna, sardines
  • Grilled or roasted chicken
  • Tofu

Healthy fat

  • Goat milk feta
  • Toasted Pumpkin seeds
  • Toasted Sunflower seeds
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Chopped nuts
  • Pine Nuts

Additional Toppings

  • Cucumbers
  • Radishes
  • Carrots
  • Snap Peas
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Orange segments
  • Sprouts!

Salad dressing combinations

  • Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette (olive oil, balsamic, sea salt, cracked pepper)
  • Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette (olive oil, lemon juice,1 tsp dijon, sea salt, pepper)
  • Citrus Vinaigrette (olive oil, orange juice, salt & pepper)
  • Asian dressing (use sesame oil as the base, brown rice vinegar, tamari)

Sample Salad

Ingredients
1 large handful of spinach
1/2 cup adzuki beans (pre-cooked)
1/4 cucumber, sliced
1 Tablespoon toasted pumpkin seeds
Your choice of protein (chicken, tuna, fish, tofu)
Topped with broccoli sprouts

Salad Dressing:
Pinch of sea salt
Crack of black pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar

Directions
1. Assemble salad ingredients in a bowl.
2. Place Dressing ingredients in a ball jar and shake until well combined
3. Pour dressing over salad.

Toasty & Nutty Snack-Bars

Nutrition fact- Always include some protein and fats when eating carbohydrates! This method helps to regulate blood sugar and will keep you full for longer.

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Sweet, salty, nutty, tasty… Couldn’t be more delicious! These bars also happen to be gluten-free, egg-free and dairy free. Oh Joy!

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients
Dry

  • 1 1/4 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1/4 cup quick oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon celtic sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Wet
  • 1/4 cup organic tea seed oil or organic grapeseed oil
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Additions
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup raisins
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees
  2. Mix almond flour, baking soda, sea salt and oats together in a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients together
  5. Add pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and raisins to the mixture. Mix until well incorporated
  6. Oil an 8×8 inch baking dish with tea seed oil. Bake form 20 minutes. Let cool.
Makes 6-8 bars