TURMERIC, known for it’s powerful anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties are added to my new blend of healing homemade tea. The key to turmeric’s healing power is the chemical compound curcumin. What’s it good for?
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TURMERIC, known for it’s powerful anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties are added to my new blend of healing homemade tea. The key to turmeric’s healing power is the chemical compound curcumin. What’s it good for?
We came home from vacation and my friend who had been dog sitting had left two persimmons on the counter. I looked at the beautiful orange fruit as a gift and a sign to prepare my next meal with a new food. I’m sure I’ve eaten this fruit before, but my memory could not bring up the flavors so I pulled up some info on the characteristics and then looked into my favorite recipes to find a place for it.
Get out of the rut of eating the same foods over and over again. When you are at the grocery store make it a habit to try a new fruit, vegetable or grain every week. Maybe try something you recall disliking as a kid and see what you make of it now. Not feeling very experimental, start with a different brand of apple, or type of potato. Get to know your spice rack to change the flavors in a dish you make frequently.
Having just come back from vacation I wanted to incorporate the persimmon into a dish I was already familiar with. Try this experiment next time you pick up a new food at the grocery store. Substitute it for something common in one of your favorite dishes. Keep it simple.
I had been eating fish all week in Hawaii and still wanted to keep on that path so I took my recipe for pecan crusted chicken and substituted tilapia. I served this over a salad of baby spinach, pre-cooked red beets, avocado, and substituted persimmon for orange sections. To add some depth to the flavor and texture I added homemade purple cabbage sauerkraut (so easy to make and it can be kept in the refrigerator for 6 months) and homemade sprouts. Before trying this dish I had no idea what to do with persimmon and now I have a new seasonal fruit to look forward to eating in the fall.
Some tips if you want to try persimmon. The fruit is native to China and was later introduced to California. Check where your grocery store fruit came from and try for as local as possible as opposed to Asian imports. It’s harvested in the fall in California and typically available through December. One fruit is about 70 calories and is a good source of fiber. It has anti-infective, anti-inflammatory, and anti-hemorrhagic properties. The orange color it a tip that it is high in carotenoids, helping to prevent age related macular disease. One fruit provides 80% of daily requirement for vitamin C. It’s a good post workout food as it is fairly high in minerals like potassium, manganese, copper and phosphorus. There are two common varieties, the hachiya (more astringent) and the fuyu (more sweet) shown in my recipe. The hachiya variety has a shape similar to a plum tomato and requires more ripening if you want to experience a sweet taste.
Now that I know I like the fruit and understand it's texture and taste I'm going to try it in a Caprese Salad. Give this a try and tell me what you think. http://www.treehugger.com/easy-vegetarian-recipes/persimmon-caprese-salad.html
I’ve noticed a growth in supermarket brands but was shocked to learn that the New York Times reported that the hummus industry has grown from just a $5 million dollar business 15 years ago to one that totaled $530 million in 2012. Traditionally hummus is simply chickpeas, tahini (sesame seed paste), garlic, lemon juice and some spices. So why are the labels so extensive for half the hummus brands I pick up to review nutrition data? Next time you shop for hummus notice the ingredient list. I’m not saying all store bought is bad but many include vegetable oils like soybean, sunflower, canola and even sugar.
I make my own for a variety of reasons including:
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup tahini mixed well
2 or more garlic cloves
1/8 tsp red pepper
1 tsp sea salt
Drain 2 cans of chickpeas reserving ½ cup liquid. Rinse beans then place in food processor.
Add 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, ¼ cup tahini, 2 minced garlic cloves (or 1T jarred minced) 1/8 teaspoon salt and process. Slowly add the reserved liquid starting with a ¼ cup and varying the liquid based upon other items you may be adding and texture desired.
Add to the basic recipe with these additional ingredients:
Although hummus has healthy fats, protein, carbs and a good amount of fiber its easy to get too much of a good thing. Keep in mind a cup of hummus is around 400-450 calories. Measure out the amount that is appropriate for your intended meal or snack instead of dipping right into the container
Next time you have a great meal notice whether the 5 essential flavors are present. I find my meals more satisfying and I don’t crave more food, or sweet treats after if there is a balance of these five flavors plus fat. Sweet does a great job of giving a savory dish more depth, just like salt. Both salty and sweet tastes signal an intake of calories to our brain. If a dish seems too sweet, sour ingredients like lemon and vinegar will neutralize the sweetness. Fruits and root vegetables are good naturally sweet whole foods to include in your meals.
Bitter is a flavor many are not too fond of, but bitter foods are really good for us. It’s the compounds within the bitter foods that make them healthy like carotenoids in sweet potatoes and spinach, flavonoids in cranberries, and polyphenols in wine. Other bitter foods to incorporate are broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts.
Salty brings out subtle flavors you’d like to highlight and also diminishes flavors that are too bitter. Salty foods you may consider are soy sauce, miso paste, cured meats, olives, or cheese.
Sour is another flavor that tends to be hard to swallow, but just a small amount of lime or vinegar can brighten up a dish. Don’t confuse sour with bitter; the main difference is that sour is acidic. It generally doesn’t take much of a sour food to take a dish that is fairly bland and produce great flavor. Consider cultured dairy products, kimchi, sauerkraut, lemon, lime and vinegar.
Unami is the hardest flavor to describe. The word translates to mean “savoriness” and is often associated with meaty flavors and foods that are aged or cured. A seared red meat dish already has a unami quality, but if you are looking to make a vegetarian dish, or less flavorful chicken or fish dish more savory try soy sauce, fish sauce, miso paste, dried seaweed, beef or bone broth, parmesan, anchovies, tomatoes or mushrooms.
And what about fat? Although not on the list I feel fat should be another flavor or taste we should think about for food combining.
Take a look at the salad in my picture. I’ll put this together and have if for at least 3 meals, adding different ingredients each day. It’s so easy to pull out of the refrigerator and eat right away after a workout and I can eat a tone of it. So satisfying! I also really enjoy the textures of the shredded vegetables, crunch of the seeds and bursts of flavor from the pomegranate. If pomegranate is not in season I like to substitute grapefruit.
3 heads broccoli = bitter
1 small head cauliflower
2 large carrots = sweet
½ cup sunflower seeds (unsalted)
½ cup pomegranate seed= sour and sweet
½ cup mint
Salt and pepper to taste
With the shred blade and a food processor shred the broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. Place in large bowl and stir in sunflower seeds, pomegranate seeds, chopped mint, and salt and pepper to taste. Do not over salt as the dressing adds salty flavor as well.
Dressing: combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth
¼ cup tahini = Unami (you can sub any natural nut butter)
2 T rice vinegar = sour apple cider vinegar works ok but I like a more subtle vinegar
2 tsp miso= unami and salty
1 T maple syrup or honey= sweet
¼ cup + 1T hot water
Toss dressing into salad.
Other things I may add for additional pleasure on other days: grape tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, shredded chicken, hardboiled egg, or canned tuna.
A topic that comes up from time to time with my clients is how to find time to cook a whole foods meal post workout. I had this situation arise myself recently and thought I would share how I managed to cook, stretch post workout, take a shower and fold laundry all within 50 min! I had started preparation for a meal on a Sunday afternoon but by time dinner came around our plan had changed and the meal was not going to get cooked. On Monday afternoon, I was on my bike in Central Park and negotiating how I was going to manage getting this meal cooked. I’m strict about refueling within an hour of a workout (in this case a 2 hour bike ride) and sometimes turn to shakes and snacks, although they are great supplementation, sometimes these post workout mini meals turn into extra calories that I would prefer not to consume.
So here is the Spicy Coconut Chicken Casserole that I cooked, and the steps I took to get it all done in 50 min.
Spicy Coconut Chicken Casserole
This was originally a Martha Stewart recipe. This serves 8 small dishes (1thigh each) or 4 large dishes. Nutrition data is for 8.
Ingredients: 1 Tbsp coconut oil 3 lbs chicken thighs 1/2 tsp sea salt 1/4 tsp black pepper 13 1/2 fl oz coconut milk 2 tsp curry paste 1 cup Arborio rice 2 bell pepper (red) 8 oz green beans 6 oz red onion 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
You can use chicken thighs or drumsticks. Arborio or jasmine rice are good choices. I used light coconut milk and went with red curry paste, 2-3 teaspoons is just a guide.
1. Start with prep work and cut all veggies into 1-inch chunks or pieces. Skin chicken and trim the fat.
I completed these steps the day before.
2. In Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Working in two batches, cook chicken until browned 3-4 min per side. Transfer to a plate.
While browning the chicken I brought my mat into the kitchen and stretched for a good 15 min, longer than I would usually stretch.
3. Scrape chicken bits from bottom and add coconut milk, broth, 1/2 cup water, and curry paste. Taste and adjust spice while bringing to a boil. Stir in rice. Add chicken and any remaining juices arranging pieces in a single layer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, without stirring until rice is done, about 15 min.
I made sure heat was adjusted and would not boil over. Took my shower and dried my hair for 15 min while this simmered.
4. Scatter bell pepper, onion, and green beans on top, cover, and cook until vegetables are crisp tender, 8-10 min.
I folded laundry and cleaned up around the kitchen for the last few minutes of cooking time.
Calories 385; fat 17g; saturated 7g; carb; 28g; protein 23g
Done! Within 50 min post workout, got a great stretch in, got cleaned up and was refueled in less than an hour. Plus this simple one dish meal gave me plenty of leftovers for the rest of the week.
There are a number of factors that determine what you should consume during exercise. The most notable factor is duration. The primary concern during short duration exercise is to maintain proper hydration. I require that all my clients bring water with them during our trainings, a sip here or there from a water fountain is not enough. If your exercise lasts less than and hour then purified drinking water should be adequate at low intensities. Bring the effort level up with heavy weight training, or exercising above that so called fat burning zone and now your workout should be accompanied by a sports drink or electrolyte replacement drink. If you are pregnant, have low blood sugar or are diabetic you should bring some carbohydrate based food as a back up for times when you feel your blood sugar dropping. In some cases a sports drink will work well for this population as well, the point is to plan and experiment.
Before I go further into sports drinks and electrolyte replacement I want to delve into the importance of water. Most people are dehydrated before they even begin exercise. Do you ever experience headaches and unusual fatigue during a workout? If so you are most likely dehydrated. Do you check your heart rate and notice that it seems a bit high for the level of work you are doing? This can also be a sign of dehydration. Before you even begin your workout you should be consuming water. The amount I recommend to start with is half your body weight in ounces of water. If you weigh 160 pounds, you should start tracking your water consumption and be sure to drink at least 80 ounces a day. On days you exercise you will need to consume even more. For those who workout first thing in the morning you should be aware that this is the time of day that your body is naturally most dehydrated, so drink up as soon as you roll out of bed.
What is in a sports drink or electrolyte replacement drink? An electrolyte replacement drink is designed to replace the fluids (that would be water) and electrolytes (which are sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, etc) lost during exercise. Sports drinks and electrolyte replacement drinks are one choice for instant energy during moderate to heavy exercise and also for muscle recovery afterwards. The idea is to start hydrated before you workout, drink an appropriate amount of electrolyte fluid during exercise to maintain blood glucose levels and then perhaps ingest some as well after exercise to balance fluid losses.
Here’s the scoop on electrolytes and why you should think about whether you need to add this to your workouts. Electrolytes are minerals that, when dissolved in water, break into small, electrically charged particles called ions. They are present wherever there's water in your body, such as your blood, cells and cell surroundings. Electrolytes regulate your body's fluids, helping to maintain a healthy blood pH balance, and creating the electrical impulses essential to all aspects of physical activity; from basic cell function to complex neuromuscular interactions needed for athletic performance. Many people know sodium and chloride are among the body's most important electrolytes, they both help excite nerves and muscles, but don't think dousing your food with table salt (sodium chloride) is the key to proper electrolyte replacement. Consider these other key electrolytes:
Calcium - aids muscle contraction
Magnesium - aids healthy cell function
Potassium - helps regulate pH balance
Phosphate - helps regulate pH balance
If you eat a balanced diet you are probably consuming adequate quantities of electrolytes for normal human function. When consumed, electrolytes separate into positively and negatively charged ions in the water inside or surrounding each cell and in the bloodstream. As long as your hydration and electrolyte levels stay in balance, you enjoy normal physical function. However, add exercise to the equation and that balance begins to shift, first by increasing the concentration of electrolytes in your body and then, over time, depleting them from your blood stream. This circumstance can seriously hinder athletic performance and in extreme cases can lead to serious illness.
With so many options on the market, from Vitamin Water, to Gateroade, it can be difficult to make a good choice for a sports drink. Because so many of them are marketed as performance and so called health foods one may think that any of these popular brands would be appropriate. Look for these qualities in a sports drink and avoid the products that meet these criteria. Avoid high calories per serving, and pay particular attention to the serving size. During an hour of moderate intensity exercise most people will not need more than 120 calories. Look for sugars glucose, fructose, maltodextrin, and cereal starches. These are carbohydrate sources that are not recommended for people looking to reduce fat, maintain weight, or who are diabetic. Look carefully at the labels and avoid products with added coloring and dies. My favorite electrolyte replacement is called “want more energy” is only 35 calories a serving, is added to your water as you need it, and replaces all electrolytes. It also includes minerals which assist in absorption of the electrolytes and is all natural with no additional colors or dies.
There is also a time and place for drinks that are higher in calories and carbohydrates. Power events of short duration require rapid use of carbohydrates for fuel. For example a sprinting event, power lifting event, a race of short duration such as a 5K, as well as long endurance events all require additional carbohydrate and a drink or gel that includes electrolytes plus carbohydrates will be beneficial. If you are an endurance athlete participating in events that last more than an hour then you will need to replace carbohydrates throughout your training and racing. You will want to choose a product or combine products to replace fluids, electrolytes, and carbohydrates. It is extremely important to practice with the nutrition you will race with and recognize that it may take some time to come up with the right combination. Generally endurance athletes will choose to use gels or powder formulas for the additional calories along with electrolytes required. I highly recommend a line of products by Infinite Nutrition. They have both pre-formulated options and custom-made training and recovery products. If interested in ordering go to www.infinitnutrition.com and use “compleat” as your discount code during check out and receive 10% off all your orders.
How do you know if you are getting enough fluids and replacing enough electrolytes? There are some very simple tests you should perform to determine this. First start by assessing your urine, is it yellow or almost clear? If it is dark yellow then you are already dehydrated. Keep in mind that when you take supplemental vitamins or eat certain foods it will change the color of your urine, so this is just a guideline. Try to get to a hydrated state before you exercise. Before you workout get on the scale and weigh yourself and then weigh yourself again after the workout. For every pound of body weight lost during exercise you need to consume 16 oz of fluid. Now look at your skin and clothing post workout. Are their white sweat marks on your clothes, are your clothes fairly damp, is your skin a little tacky or can you feel salt granules on your skin? These are all really great indicators of your sweat rate and the amount of electrolytes lost during your workout. Wet clothing means you lost a lot of water during your workout and based upon ho heavily you sweat you should consume 6-12 oz of fluid every 15-20 minutes of exercise. That amounts to a minimum of 18 ounces to maximum of 48 ounces in an hour. Now back to those nasty sweat marks. If you are salty, then you lost a lot of electrolytes and need to consume an electrolyte drink during and after exercise. Remember this does not necessarily need to be a high calorie drink, the key is to replace vital nutrients.
The key to properly fueling your body during training is to experiment with which foods in what quantities work best for your body. Consider the type of exercise, intensity, duration of exercise, time of day, when your last meal was, and your ultimate goal. Still feeling a bit at loss? Then contact me for a free nutrition and exercise consultation.
Here are some questions my clients ask me. Should I eat before my workout? Is it better to exercise on an empty stomach so that I tap into my fat stores and burn them away? I run out of energy during my workouts but have a sensitive stomach and can’t seem to figure out what works. How much should I eat before going out for an easy jog?
If your goal is to perform well during exercise then you definitely want to eat prior to exercise. The bottom line is that when you eat carbohydrate-rich foods before exercise, you will perform better, both mentally and physically during the workout.
If you have a sensitive stomach or find that you basically don’t feel great when you eat before exercise choose low-fiber and low-fat foods, they are easier to digest. Also try to eat at least an hour before beginning your workout. Avoid foods like peanut butter, cereals, bread and grains before your workout. Both fat and fiber hold food in the stomach longer and if you have a sensitive stomach you will want to eat food that will be digested and out of your gut when you start exercise. Some good low-fat, low-fiber options are banana, fruit salad, fresh berries, steamed non-gaseous vegetables, kefir, low fat yogurt, organic milk, soy milk or almond milk. For those lifting weights a meal replacement shake may be appropriate such as the Isalean Shake.
How much to eat is dependent on your body size, the type of exercise, intensity, duration, and ultimate goal of the exercise. If you are exercising for fitness, at a low to moderate intensity for 60 minutes or less experiment with consuming 120 calories and see how that feels. If the workout is very light, such as yoga, walking, or light cardio you may not need to eat. In these cases an empty stomach may feel best or you can consider liquid calories like a half serving of 100% juice added to water, coconut water, or an electrolyte replacement drink.
What if your ultimate goal in exercising is to burn fat? It is true that exercising on an empty stomach allows you to burn fat during exercise, but this does not necessarily translate into a reduction in body fat. Why? Because when you go into a workout with a low carbohydrate reserve you will feel less energetic and are likely to drop the intensity of your workout. When you have low carbohydrate reserves generally exercise feels much harder. Therefore if you were to get on a stationary cardio machine with low carbohydrate reserves and attempt a moderate to high intensity workout you would probably run out of fuel within 20 minutes resulting in a reduction in intensity and perhaps even total time of exercise. But if you were working with the cardio machine and are planning for a very low intensity workout you would be more likely to sustain the intensity for up to an hour even if you had not had a meal or snack prior to exercise. If your goal is to loose body fat you should be working at a moderate to high intensity. In order to sustain that type of workout your body needs carbohydrate as fuel. Therefore if you have not had a meal within approximately 2 hours you should consume a low calorie, carbohydrate rich food. Some examples are ½ cup cooked oatmeal with some berries; whole grain bread, look for sprouted bread, along with no more than 1 Tablespoon of almond butter; or a small serving of organic yogurt with ¼ to ½ cup of fresh fruit.
If your goal is to build muscle the pre workout meal is only a little different. As stated before, any high intensity workout requires carbohydrate reserves for fuel. Carbs power exercise and weight lifting, cycling, running, tennis, soccer, volleyball are all examples of high intensity workouts. If you have not had food within 2-3 hours it is easy to blow through your glycogen stores and then your mental and physical energy will drop during your workout. When trying to build muscle choose pre-workout meals that provide carbohydrate and a bit of protein. Great options are hummus and raw veggies, oatmeal topped with seeds or nuts, baked sweet potato with a little cheese, slice of sprouted bread with 2 ounces of chicken or other lean meat, or snack on edemame. I like to buy the edemame in the pod, it’s available as organic and already cooked in the frozen food sections. The meal I am most likely to consume prior to weight training, running over one hour, or cycling over and hour is an Islean Shake which provides 23 grams of carbohoydrate (more if I add some fruit) and 23 grams of protein.
The key to properly fueling your body is to experiment with which foods in what quantities work best for your body. Consider the type of exercise, intensity, duration of exercise, time of day, when your last meal was, and your ultimate goal. Always keep in mind that with all exercise, except very low intensity, the purpose of the pre exercise meal is to provide the nutrition your body needs to complete the exercise for a given intensity with a particular goal in mind. Contact me for a free nutrition and exercise consultation.
You think I’m kidding? Not Spaghetti pasta, spaghetti squash. I love this vegetable as a seasonal transitional food. I’m pretty much ready to give up the winter squashes in favor of lighter spring foods, but compared to others this one has a light and sweet flavor, delicate texture, is incredibly versatile and can actually substitute pasta in many dishes.
Spaghetti squash is low in calories, but high in vitamins and antioxidants. One cup of cooked spaghetti squash is only 10 grams of carbohydrates and 42 calories compared to regular spaghetti pasta, which is around 43 grams of carbohydrates and 221 calories per cup. It ranks very low on the glycemic index, so will not cause blood sugar levels to spike and then drop suddenly. This vegetable is an excellent source of beta carotene, also known as vitamin A which helps to boost the immune system and maintain healthy eye function. Spaghetti squash also contains significant amounts of niacin, vitamin B6, potassium, manganese, fiber and vitamin C.
To cook spaghetti squash cut the whole squash in half and remove all the seeds. You will need a large sharp knife, as she skin and flesh are tough. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the halves cut side down in a roasting pan, or glass baking dish along with half an inch of water. Bake for 30-45 minutes depending on size, until it is tender but not mushy. You can also microwave it, but I have not tried that method. Take a fork and scrape the stingy squash out onto individual plates and top with the food you would normally place on top of spaghetti or place in a bowl and toss in other ingredients.
Each squash will provide at least 6 servings so make each meal a little different. Treat it just like pasta and top with a homemade tomato sauce, meat, and sautéed vegetables. Serve it cold and toss like a salad with lightly steamed vegetables. Use it as a base for a meal that is a little saucy that you would typically serve over rice. You can treat it like a side dish and toss with olive oil, a little nutmeg, ground pepper and Parmesan cheese. Take the components of a Greek salad and cook them (onion, garlic, tomato, olives, feta cheese), replace the greens with spaghetti squash, toss and serve warm
Are you getting fat just thinking about the holidays?
Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years are getting closer and closer!
What do they all have in common? FOOD!
Heavy meals, drinks, sweets, candy, cookies, pastry....all creeping closer, all ready to leap on your hips, thighs and butt. Stop the assault on your waistline and on your body. Help is available! Free yoursdlf from the millions of celebrating calories that want YOU for their dinner!
Join us for an afternoon of education and tasting. Stop those sneaky calories before they end up in your body, and you end up on another endless cycle of dieting and deprivation. Learn to control your appetite easily and effortlessly. Allow yourself to choose to eat healthier and enjoy it. Give yourself an amazing new gift for the holidays, a new healthier you with the body your want.
Sign up today, and fit right in!
Email email@example.com or call 917-292-2069 to register.
Sunday November 14, 3:00 pm at my fabulous new home located at #1 Northside Piers, PH10, Brooklyn NY 11211. Easily accessible by the Bedford stop on the L train
No other fruit says summer quite like thirst-quenching watermelon. I had my first triathlon in Connecticut two weeks ago and at the end of the race there was plenty of food for the competitors to enjoy. Unfortunately at this race there was nothing on the menu I wanted. Then I saw a guy munching on a watermelon. “Where did you get that”? Man did those few wedges of sweet, juicy watermelon hit the spot. Much of the watermelon’s health-giving powers, as well as its blush color, are due to an abundance of the phytochemical lycopene. By helping counter oxidative stress, lycopene may play a role in taming, inflammation, certain cancers and maintaining healthy eyesight. Watermelon is also rich in citrulline, an amino acid used to make arginine, which relaxes blood vessels to help maintain a healthy heart. And the seeds that we tend to discard? They are packed with magnesium, a mineral vital for nerve function, blood pressure regulation, immunity, and bone health. No wonder I was craving watermelon after swimming a mile, biking 25 and running 6.2 miles.
Want to know the best ways to eat this health giving summer delight?