Common Diet Myths

After an amazing spring break and a hiatus from blogging, I am back and with my favorite post so far and we are gettin’ serious. This blog post is dedicated to diet myths everyone has heard over and over again. Some people don’t even realize these are myths because they have read them in magazines, seen them on talk shows and heard them from their friends. Today I hope to shatter some windows and shed some light on these myths!

Fat will make you fat

  • Fat does not make the body have a spike of insulin like it does after eating carbohydrates therefore there is no crash after eating fat which keeps you feeling satisfied and energized longer
  • Fat stimulates a full response so your stomach can easily tell your brain when it is done eating. This keeps you from stuffing yourself silly with insulin spiking carbohydrates.
  • The fat that comes from happy animals raised in natural living conditions is full of vitamin A, D, and K. These are the vitamins the majority of the population are deficient in. They are fat-soluble so even if your multi-vitamin says it contains them that doesn’t mean your body is absorbing them like it would from a natural source
  • Eating fat will not increase your chances of cardiovascular diseases
  • This myth makes sense logically. Fat has 9 calories per gram compared to protein and carbohydrates that only have 4 calories. But what is wrong with having half the portion size and getting a greater benefit from it?

Eating eggs will give you high cholesterol

  • In 1984 an article in Time Magazine came out speculating that eating high cholesterol foods would increase your cholesterol (sounds a lot like fat makes you fat, right?) this one article that was not supported by concrete evidence started the myth that eggs will give you high cholesterol.
  • There are two types of cholesterol, one that our bodies make and one that we consume. Recent studies have shown that these two have very little correlation.
  • Studies have shown that eggs increase the “good” cholesterol in your blood
  • Gary Taubes wrote an amazing article about this topic for the New York Times which can be found here
  • A lot is still unknown about cholesterol and diet

Saturated fat is bad for you

  • This myth started in 1958 when Ancel Keys presented a study called the Seven Countries Study which compared fat intake vs cardiovascular disease. He found a positive correlation and his study made it on the cover of Time Magazine. Later it was discovered that he intentionally left out 20 other countries data which would have ruined his discovery. Holland and Norway eat large amounts of saturated fat yet have very little heart disease but of course he couldn’t tell anyone that!
  • According to this study and this study there was no link between cardiovascular disease and intake of saturated fats
  • New studies have shown saturated fat actually increase “good” cholesterol!
  • New research is starting to emerge which is showing that the real danger is processed fats like canola oil and vegetable oil (when the study comes out I will post their results)

Whole grains are healthy for everyone

  • Whole grains are actually fairly low in nutrients compared to vegetables and vegetables tend to have less calories and carbohydrates
    • 100g of bread has 289 kcal,  56.44g of carbohydrate2.4g of fibers513mg of sodium128mg of potassium, 0 UI Vitamin A and 0.6ug Vitamin K.
    • 100g of broccoli has 34 kcal6.62g of carbohydrates2.6g of fiber33g of sodium, 316mg of potassium, 623 UI Vitamin A and 101.6 ug Vitamin K.
  • Whole grains contain phytic acid which has been shown to decrease mineral absorption in your intestines. In other words, the whole grains you eat steal nutrients from you
  • Whole grains contain gluten which have been linked to a laundry list of diseases like, schizophreniaautismgut permeability leading to bloating, constipation, pain and tirednessdepressiondiabetes and dementia

Diet soda is good for you because it has zero calories

  • Diet soda is sweetened with aspartame which is known to cause depression, headaches, decreased memory, and increased chance of cancer 
  • Diet soda may have zero calories but your body reacts to diet soda the same way it reacts to any other sugary drink by increasing its insulin secretion to help metabolize the sugar. Since diet soda doesn’t contain any sugar this spike in insulin with nothing for it to actually work with can lead to decreased insulin sensitivity which can cause obesity and diabetes.

Low fat products will keep me from gaining weight

  • Fat has more calories in it which means you have to eat less of it but fat also tastes amazing. When fat is removed from a product it is replaced with sugar, flavorings and chemicals to keep the product appitizing which is worse for your body than eating fat
  • This study shows no difference in weight change between women who ate full fat products and women who ate low fat products
  • Eating full fat products can actually keep you from developing any cardiovascular diseases as seen in this study
  • Full fat dairy has vitamin A and D. Non-fat dairy has been processed and the vitamin containing fat has been removed so milk producers replace it with synthetic vitamin A and D. Both of these are fat soluble and if they are added into a low-fat or non-fat product your body cannot utilize them like it can when coming from a natural source.

Hope this sheds some light on common diet myths everyone has heard. Now go fry up some eggs, bacon and broccoli and drink a tall glass of water :)

 

Spin on the classics

I love comfort food. There is just something about spending some time in the kitchen cooking up a delicious homemade comfort food that makes me happy. The only thing I hate about comfort food is the way my body feels after eating it. My comfort food in mostly carbohydrate based so I challenged myself to make changes to four recipes to make them less-carb filled but with the same amount of comfort!

Mac and Cheese

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My Mom made the best mac and cheese. When I was younger it was the dish I always wanted when I needed some comfort food. But the worst part in mac and cheese are the noodles. There are 221 calories in one cup of noodles but one cup of butternut squash only has 63! So to switch up this recipe I swapped noodles for diced butternut squash.

Ingredients

1 butternut squash, diced or made into noodles if you have a spiral slicer like this one

1 cup of kale, chiffonade

8 oz of cheddar cheese (I used Flagship), shredded

1/4 cup milk (I used whipping cream because fat is my friend not my foe)

1/2 teaspoon of paprika

dash of cayenne

5 slices of bacon

Directions

Set oven to 370 degrees. Cut butternut squash in half and remove the seeds then slice off skins and largely dice the remaining squash. Place squash on cookie sheet and cover with coconut oil or any oil of choice (but you better not be using that vegetable or canola oil in this delicious meal and here’s why). Bake these until soft but not squishy! We want them to resemble noodles not mush.

If you have a spiral slicer then spiral out your butternut squash into noodles. Throw them into a pot of boiling water and let them cook until they are al dente.

While the squash is cooking, fry up your bacon in a skillet until it is crunchy! Then wait for it to cool and chop into large chunks.

Once your squash is done, place cheese and cream into a pot and turn on medium-low. Let the cheese slowly melt while constantly stirring it. When cheese is melted mix in paprika, squash and kale. The kale adds a little nutrients to this meal as well as more noodle like texture and with that much cheese you can hardly taste any vegetable!

Finally, scoop out some mac and cheese into a bowl, top with bacon and add a dash of cayenne pepper on top!

Shepherd’s Pie

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Growing up potatoes were my favorite food. If I could eat just mashed potatoes for dinner I would have been the happiest child in the world but obviously my parents wouldn’t let me so we compromised. Shepherds pie was an easy way for my parents to hide some protein and vegetables under a huge dollop of delicious creamy mashed potatoes! But as we saw in my Healthy Low Carb Swaps post, potatoes have about 5x more grams of carbohydrates than cauliflower does. So for this swap all I did was nix the potatoes and add mashed cauliflower!

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower

2 T cream

1 pound of beef

1/2 pound chorizo or italian sausage

1 Tablespoon tomato paste

1 cup carrots, diced

1 cup peas

1 cup spinach, chiffonade

4 oz mushrooms, diced

1 cup red wine

1 cup chicken stock

1-2 T arrowroot powder

6 T butter

1 T garlic

*Optional:

1 beef/lamb liver, chopped (this meal has so many flavors and meats already incorporated it is easy to hide this amazing superfood!)

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Roughly chop cauliflower and place in bowling water until soft. Strain and place into food processor with 3 T of butter, 2 T cream and a splash of the water used to bowl the cauliflower. Mix until it resembles mashed potatoes. Set aside.

 

Melt butter in large pot on medium-low then add in garlic and mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are soft then mix in tomato paste and stir for about two minutes. Add chorizo and beef and crank up the heat to medium high to brown the meat. I added chorizo because I like the spices in it better than the traditional rosemary and thyme.

Once meat is browned add in wine and chicken stock. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Then add in arrowroot powder which will thicken up your liquids. Mix in 1 tablespoon and wait if that isn’t enough add another. Adding too much arrowroot powder will make your shepherds pie have a gummy goo texture instead of a gravy feel so be careful.

Turn off heat mix in vegetables and salt/pepper to taste. Poor mixture into a casserole dish then top with mashed cauliflower. If you want you can sprinkle on some cheese or paprika. Then place in oven for 30-40 minutes of until the top is brown.

Chicken Tenders

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Who doesn’t love some crispy chicken tenders with crazy good dipping sauce?? Sometimes I catch myself dreaming of McDonalds nuggets and ranch sauce but then I remember how many ingredients are actually in those (38 according to the McDonalds website) and how that chicken doesn’t even really look like chicken anymore! So my fancy hack for this one was to get that crispy texture of the McDonalds nuggets without gluten and add something with some good nutrients in. I swapped out breading for Trader Joe’s plantain chips and added in spinach to get some of our favorite dark green vegetable!

Ingredients

1 pound chicken breast

3/4 cup shredded plantain chips

1/2 cup spinach

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

1/2 cup cream

zest of lemon

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Slice up chicken into nugget sized chunks. Try to make them all about the same size so they cook at the same speed. Place chicken into a bowl and cover with 1/2 cup of cream. Put to the side.

Take plantain chips and run through food processor until they resemble breadcrumbs. Then add in lemon zest, spinach and parmesan and mix until everything is about uniform in size and looks like green breadcrumbs.

Take each nugget of chicken and let excess cream drip off then fully coat in spinach, plantain and cheese mix. Place all nuggets onto a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Grease your aluminum foil with a little coconut butter before cooking so the nuggets don’t stick.

Bake chicken nuggets for about 20 minutes. The mixture should be crunchy and the inside no longer pink. Then serve up with some awesome sauce!

Pizza!

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I think everyone can agree pizza is a comfort food. Warm doughy crust, zesty tomato sauce, gooey cheese, spicy meat and crunchy veggies on top! Writing that made my mouth water. This one took me awhile to figure out. I have tried many gluten free pizza recipes and have always been very disappointed with the results so I went a different direction this time. I pulled out my favorite vegetable, cauliflower. Low carb and with a mild flavor can be molded into just about anything you want.

Ingredients

Half head of cauliflower

1/2 cup cheese of choice (I used Flagship but you could use parmesan, mozzarella or a combination of all three) , shredded

1 t garlic

1/4 t oregano

1/4 t basil

1/4 t red pepper flakes

1 egg

1 T coconut flour

Your favorite pizza toppings

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.

Place half head of cauliflower florets into food processor and chop until it resembles wet rice. Place cauliflower in paper towel and squeeze out excess water.

Then mix in all other ingredients except for toppings. This should give you a thick mush but don’t except it to be the consistency of regular dough.

Oil up your aluminum foiled cookie sheet again and make two small pizzas (I did it this way to regulate the cooking of the crust easier but it would work as one large pizza just decrease the heat and increase baking time).  Keep pizzas thick and make sure you have a bit of a “crust” around the edges to keep in toppings.

Spread some olive oil on the top of the crust and cook for about 10 minutes or until it turns golden brown. Top with your favorite toppings and place back into the oven for another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and toppings are warm.

 

Next time you are in the mood for some comfort food try swapping out something that is high in carbohydrates for a vegetable based carb like squash or cauliflower or adding in some dark green veggies to give it a nutrient kick! If you come up with a good swapped comfort food post it below I would love to try it!

 

 

 

 

Toppers, Sauces and Condiments OH MY!

I really do love sauces. I think every meal can be improved with some sort of dipping sauce or topper. These toppers or dippers can add just that bit of complexity and zing to make a meal go from good to amazing! But whenever I go to the store these items seem to have ingredient  lists so long my brain gets tired before I reach the end. Do you know that mayo only needs 5 ingredients yet the store bought ones have 9 or more (do we really need to put sugar in mayo??).  Making ketchup takes 10 minutes and has zero high fructose corn syrup, regular corn syrup or so called “natural flavorings” (if they are really natural why wouldn’t you just list them?).

I know you are sitting there thinking, “Mary, are you crazy? You think I am going to spend my Saturday mixing mayo and ketchup?” I promise the 30 minutes it takes to make both of these recipes will produce you not only the best condiments you have ever tasted but the base to then create some pretty delicious toppers and dippers!

Mayo Recipe

Egg-free mayo recipe

Ketchup recipe

These recipes are my go to condiment recipes for fail proof deliciousness! Once you have your base the possibilities are endless.

  • Add some chipotle or curry to your ketchup for a little extra kick to go with sweet potato fries or chicken nuggets.
  • Add saffron, chipotle and garlic to some mayo for a topper on fish
  • Add chives and lemon juice and zest to mayo for a light tangy sauce which goes well with fish and chips!
  • Add turmeric and garlic to mayo to top on burgers (remember turmeric is a super food!)
  • Make your own 8 ingredient Ranch Dressing (which you should because the ingredients in Hidden Valley is a little suspect! Really 19 ingredients!)
  • Mix in what you got! My best creations have come from mixing ketchup/mayo with extra herbs and left over lemon, lime or vinegar that I have from whatever I am cooking.

If you add any spices to your mayo/ketchup let it sit in the fridge for a couple hours so the flavor has time to marinate!

But if you aren’t fully ready to take on the very small burden of making your own ingredients here are some good alternatives you can buy at the store

Mayo:

Best: Sir Kensington

Better: Spectrum Mayonnaise Olive Oil

Good: Hellmann’s Olive Oil Mayo

Ketchup:

Best: Sir Kensington

Better: Westbrae Natural Saugar Free Organic Ketchup

Good: Heinz Organic Ketchup

Toppers:

I love relish, salsa and guacamole to use as toppers! These three things are SO simple to make and go with pretty much everything.  Guac is great for burgers, omelets or tacos. Salsa ingredients can be mixed up to make them sweet, spicy or tangy to go with fish, burgers, eggs or salads. Relish just like salsa can be manipulated to match the dish but adds a tangy taste to burgers, chicken nuggets or meatloaf.

Guacamole

2 avocados

1 tomato, diced

1/4 onion, diced

1 lime, juiced

1/2 jalapeño

1 clove garlic, minced

1 T cilantro, minced

Directions: Mix all ingredients together!

Relish:

2 dill pickles, diced

1 tomato, diced

1/2 onion, diced

1 T lemon juice

1 t garlic, minced

Mix together and let sit in fridge for at least 30 minutes. Great on top of burgers!

Salsa:

Base:

6 tomatoes, chopped

1/2 red onion, diced

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 juice of lime

1/4 cup cilantro, minced

Add ins:

1 jalapeño, diced

1 cup pineapple, diced

1 cup mango, diced

1 cup cucumber, diced

1 cup black beans

1/2 cup olives, halved

1/2 cup corn

1/2 cup purple grapes

Directions: Mix your base then choose a couple add ins if you fancy and put in fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Hope this post has inspired you to try creating your own toppers and condiments that are all natural and made with real ingredients :)

What do these labels mean?

This happens to me every time I go to the grocery store to buy some beef or eggs. I stand there for a good five minutes and debate in my mind between should I buy the one that says free range for $5/lb or the one that says all natural for $6/lb? Which one means that the animals this product came from as living in its natural habitat and eating its normal diet? Food labels can be so confusing. Organic, free-range, all-natrual, 100% natural, farm fresh… what do these terms actually mean?

This video is entertaining but it is actually pretty terrifying wakeup call to consumers to really take a look at what those labels mean.

What do these terms mean

Grass-fed:

Animals have not been fed any grains or soy. BUT there is an exception, in the winter if the weather is bad these animals can eat grains and soy yet still be called grass-fed. Even with people using grains for a portion of the cows life this is higher quality meat than cows who have been given grains/soy only.

Antibiotic Free:

This one is pretty straight forward and is one that you can count on as being true. This is also one that you should be looking for. Cows are given the bulk of antibiotics used in America because of the subpar living conditions these cows are forced to live in.

USDA Certified Organic:

These animals have access to the outdoors, they are given no antibiotics or hormones, and are fed an organic diet. This does not mean that the beef is grass-fed, it means they were given organic grains/soy unless otherwise stated. The certification to get this stamp approved for your food is extremely costly and that is why most of these foods are highly expensive. Some foods can say organic and not be USDA certified which means they have not paid for the stamp.

Naturally raised:

These animals are not given hormones or antibiotics but this term has no standard on what the animal is fed or where it lives.

All Natural:

This term doesn’t have very many rules surrounding it at all. When all natural is used in terms of meat products it just states that no artificial coloring, flavoring or synthetic substances has been added POST processing. This means the animals can be given antibiotics, hormones and live in a feedlot but since the meat doesn’t contain any added stuff technically it is “all natural”. This one grosses me out a little bit because it always makes me thing, shouldn’t our animal products be all natural anyways?? Why would we need a label confirming that??

Pature raised:

This one can be seen on beef and also on poultry/eggs. Beef is just means it was living outside so unless it says grass-fed pasture raised then those cows were eating grains/soy outside. If it’s on chickens/eggs it just means they were raised outside but does not have any bearing on what they were fed either.

Free range:

Free range is another term that can easily be misunderstood. In the case of chickens, free range can be put on your product if the chickens have access to roam 51% of the time but that doesn’t mean these chickens have a happy life. They are still permitted to cut their beaks and forced feather shedding through starvation.

Certified Humane Raised and Handled

This was a new one that I found doing research for this blog post. The Humane Farm Animal Care which is a non-profit organization focused on humane treatment of farm animals regulates this voluntary certification. These animals must have room to roam, shelter, low stress handling, fresh water and diet without any hormones or antibiotics. This is a good label to look for!

Cage free:

Sneaky labeling companies thought up this one to make you think that the poultry or eggs you are buying came from a happy little chickens out roaming the fields. That is not true. This label just means that the chicken was not kept in a small cage but can mean that the chicken was kept in a small room with a bunch of other chickens. This labeling also is not regulated very well so in all realty you don’t really know what conditions that chicken was raised in.

Hormone free:

This term is only applicable when buying beef!! It is illegal for pigs and chickens to be given hormones. So pork or poultry with the term hormone free is an advertising ploy. Thanks for advertising that you aren’t breaking the law. Cows can be given large quantities of hormones to make them grow faster so this is a label that you should be looking for when buying beef.

Vegetarian Fed:

This label always makes me laugh. It’s posted on eggs in big block letters like it’s a good thing. But chickens aren’t suppose to eat grains/soy!! Chickens should eat bugs/grub from the ground. So don’t let them fool you into thinking that this is a good thing. They are essentially advertising that they did not feed their chicken their natural diet.

Wild fish

This means that the fish were caught in the wild and ate what the fish are suppose to eat. This is a good label to look for when buying any sort of fish or shellfish! Also make sure if buying any fish oil/cod liver oil supplements that this is included on the label!

Wild caught fish

Now this is how companies trick you! These fish were raised in fish farms and fed unconventional diets then they were released to the ocean to just get caught again. These fish are in no way wild fish!

How the majority of the animals we eat are raised

I am going to give a HUGE warning. These videos are absolutely awful. But this is what people need to see.

Smithfield is one of the biggest pork producers in America and this is a documentary on the treatment and living conditions of the pigs living in their farms.

Final thoughts

It always makes me a little sad when I read about all the labeling ploys companies use to trick us into thinking that the foods we are buying is healthier or more natural than it really is. The regulations on the way animals we eat are cared for and processed is a little like the Wild West.  There are not a lot of rules and lots of money on the line. The faster you can get a large quantity of bigger animals processed the more money you can make. I urge you to pay attention to where you are getting your animal products and spend that extra $2 a pound to get meat from a cow that lived in the sunshine and ate grass. We as consumers can use our money to vote for quality food. So instead of swearing off all meat support your local butcher shop and small farmers by choosing to buy quality meat products from them instead of mass produced meat. The best way to know you are buying quality meat is to do some research. Call the farmer or the company and if they are open to your questions and even let you take a look around their farm then you know you are getting products from an excellent source!

Where to buy quality animal products

Carne Butcher Shop

Farmers Markets 

Find an organic, local farm in your area

US Wellness Meats

Sasquatch in the bedroom

 

I use to have the hardest time falling asleep. I am pretty sure my brain kept all its thinking until I was in bed and then decided that it was time to make big life decisions or lists of things to do the next day.  I constantly woke up through out the night and then the next morning would be super groggy and in a fog the rest of the day. But now I have a couple tricks that I do every night which help me get a complete and restful sleep.

Routine

I have a nightly routine so my body and brain know it’s time to calm down and relax before bed. I set up my coffee for the next day, get my breakfast plated so I just have to reheat it in the morning, put my lunch together, take my sleeping supplements and then floss/brush teeth. I consistently go to bed at the same time even if I am not really that tired or just really want to watch 5 more episodes on Netflix. I commit to 9:45pm lights off, phone off and computer off, no matter what.

Sleep cycles

You know that feeling when you wake up without an alarm and you are alert and feel well-rested? Thats because your body has woken you up at the end of a sleep cycle naturally. We sleep in cycles which are about 90 minutes long and if you are to wake up mid-sleep cycle you will feel groggy and less rested than if you wake up at the end of a cycle.  I found this website that you enter the time you need to get up the next morning and it counts sleep cycles and gives you multiples times at which you should fall asleep by. It takes about 15 minutes to fall asleep so subtract 15 minutes from the time it tells you and thats when you should be in bed by.

I was extremely skepitcal of this before I tried it and didn’t really think that it would make that big of difference but it truly does! Mornings that I wake up at the end of a sleep cycle I have more energy and am in a better mood throughout the day. I recommend trying it for about a week and see if by the end of the week you can feel a difference in your mood and energy level in the mornings.

CAFFEINE

Good old energy booster! I have to be honest I love coffee. I drink an embarrassingly large amount of coffee in the mornings because it makes me happy in our gloomy cold PNW weather. But I cut that crack off at 11am. Caffeine keeps you awake and thats why I love for when I am in class at 8am but the effects can last a long time. Which if ingested too late in the day can negatively impact your ability to sleep. Caffeine comes in other forms as well like chocolate, tea, soda, ice cream or frozen yogurt and pain relievers. If you are finding that it is hard for you to fall asleep at night look at what you are eating through out the day and see if it has caffeine in it. Also foods with sugar in them can also keep your brain buzzing when you are trying to sleep so limit your consumption of sugar as well.

room setting

Our brains love complete darkness when sleeping so that street light or flashing charger may be keeping your brain from fully shutting off and going to sleep. Invest in some blackout blinds or an eye mask so you can have a completely dark sleep evenironment. If you live in a noisy apartment or have loud roommates, get some earplugs. When you are trying to calm down and turn off doors slamming, music playing and people laughing can be really distracting.

BLue lights

Our phones, tvs and computers all generate blue light. This blue light is helpful during the day because it keeps us alert and awake. But at night when we are winding down and preparing our brains for bed by watching tv, finishing up some emails or looking at instagram we are still feeding our brains energizing blue light which then throws off our bodies circadian rhythm or internal clock. This contradiction of “daylight” from our screens and our internal clock saying it should be dark because it’s nighttime causes stress on our bodies. This stress can change our levels of melatonin making sleep harder to come by and increase our chances of developing diabetes, heart disease, cancer and obesity. Screens our part of our life and I don’t plan on going screen free anytime soon so there are easy things you can do to help decrease your blue light exposure and increase your restful sleep.

  • Invest in blue light blocking glasses to wear at night when watching tv, looking at your computer and phone.
  • Download a program from both your computer and phone which automatically changes the lighting of your computer as the time changes. During the day your computer will be bright and resemble sunlight then as the sunsets your computer starts to produce warm red light which has less effect on your circadian rhythm. I just got this program and it was a little tricky to figure out which setting I liked but my eyes feel less stressed when looking at my screen in the evenings now.
  • Shut down your screens early, about 2-3 hours before bed. Read a book, do some chores or spend quality time talking with your significant other/roommate instead of staring at a screen before bed.

Sleeping supplements

Nope I am not talking about sleeping pills which force you to sleep unnaturally. I am talking about all natural supplements you can take that calm your body and your mind  which helps you fall asleep and stay asleep.

  • Melatonin: This is a hormone that helps regulate you sleep cycles. It can help calm you down and make your body get into the proper physiological state for sleeping. It is produced naturally by our bodies but can also be taken in pill form to aid in sleeping. Check with your doctor if you are taking other medications and do not give melatonin to children.
  • Magnesium: This is a mineral which also helps your body wind down before bed. Studies have shown that people with even slight magnesium deficiency have trouble turning their brain off before bed. Magnesium comes in pill, powder, oil or food form. I take 1/4 teaspoon of Natural Calm powder with warm water about 15 minutes before bed. Foods that are high in magnesium are dark green veggies, almonds, pumpkin seeds and wheat germ.
  • Calcium: This mineral is directly correlated with our sleep cycles and can be found in high concentration during our deepest of sleeps, the REM cycle. Just like with magnesium a small deficiency in calcium can greatly hinder restfulness of sleep. A warm glass of milk which contains calcium and tryptophan, an amino acid that also aids in sleep,  can make for a solid nights rest. Calcium can also be find in dark green veggies, sesame seeds and almonds are also good sources of calcium.
  • Fish oil: Fish oil has many benefits and one of them is helping your bodies natural melatonin production which is essential for sleep. Fish oil also contains DHA and EPA that lowers our stress hormone, norepinephrine.  Fish oil comes in multiple forms pill, liquid, gel or just by eating fish consistently. Bellingham actually has a local company that makes high quality fish oil called Barleans and that is the company I buy my fish oil pills from.

 

These six easy changes has made falling asleep and staying asleep a normal nightly thing for me. If you have any questions or help tips that you use to fall asleep comment below!

Do you want superpowers?

Just kidding. I don’t actually know how to give you superpowers. But I do know how you can feel like a super you by adding these 8 super-foods into your diet!

1. Sardines

Sardines are tiny little fish that pack a super nutritious punch! In 1 cup of sardines you get 56% of your daily Calcium, 72% Vitamin D,  221% Vitamin-B12, 24% Iron, 592mg of Potassium and 37 grams of protein! One can of these fish can also give you 313mg EPA and 688mg DHA which help with inflammation (source: Wild Planet).

My first experience with sardines goes back to when I was just a little child. While my Dad was sleeping I opened three cans of oily sardines onto the carpet. What a waste of amazing nutrients!!! I haven’t touched sardines since so for this blog post I decided to head down to the Co-Op and grab a can. I got Wild Planet Wild Sardines in EVOO with Lemon. Cracked that baby open and to my surprise the sardines still had scales and bones. I thought about just pretending I ate them for a good two minutes while I stared at the can but I grabbed a plantain chip and made a sardine sandwich and took a bite. To my pleasant surprise it was really good! There is no weird fishy taste or crunchy bones like I excepted but instead tastes like a milder tuna. I think sardines would be great to add to salad or to just eat alone with some chips like I did. I will be adding these into my weekly diet! These would be great to store in your desk or slip into your bag as you run out of the house for a quick and easy meal.

2. Grass-fed Beef

It’s not a hoax there is actually a huge health difference between grass-fed beef and corn-fed beef. First off, grass-fed beef contains significantly more omega-3 fatty acids which support healthy brain and heart function. Secondly, grass-fed beef has a higher concentration of stearic acid which is a saturated fat that does not raise cholesterol unlike grain-fed beef. Finally, grass-fed beef contains more Vitamin E, iron, zinc, phosphorous, potassium and carotenoids.

Most importantly though grass-fed beef comes from cows who are happy, healthy and living/eating in their natural environment. These cows are free to roam and munch on grass in the sun just as they have evolved to do. Since these cows are living in their natural environment they don’t need to be pumped full of antibiotics to keep them healthy or growth hormones to make them bigger faster to get processed quicker. The antibiotics and growth hormones given to grain-fed cows stay in the meat and then are passed to us when we eat them. These antibiotics are harmful to us and to our environment; Princeton summed up the harmful effects of antibiotics here.

3. Liver (Organ meats)

The most common question I get about liver is, since liver detoxifies your blood isn’t it full of toxins and thats not stuff we want to eat? While it is true that the liver is a detox organ it does not actually store any of the toxins in it. What is stored in liver are important nutrients that are used to detox the blood like iron, copper, vitamin A, D, K, E and B12. Liver also contains a high amount of folate which can be hard to get in your diet. For more information on the health benefits of liver and other organ meats click here.

After I read about what a nutrient powerhouse liver is I decided I needed to try adding it into my diet. I bought lamb liver from the Co-Op downtown and made this liver pate recipe (even though it calls for chicken). I again had to give myself a small pep talk before I ate the liver but it looked like bean dip so it was much easier to processes than the sardines. I found that liver has a unique taste but on a plantain chip with a little guacamole on the side it is a pretty delicious meal. I even convinced some of my friends to try some and they agreed it was pretty good. I have heard that an easy way to cover the taste of liver, if you can’t handle it, is to chop it into small pieces and mix it into meatloaf!

4. Fermented Foods

I love fermented food so much and think it is so beneficial to your diet I wrote a whole post on it here.

If you aren’t into making your own fermented foods my favorite brands to buy at the store are, Bubbies for sauerkraut and pickles, GT’s for kombucha and Kevita for kefir. My new favorite addition is Live Kombucha Soda which comes in rootbeer, cola, limone and pure doctor! If you love soda but want a healthier option these are the perfect combination!

5. Gelatin

Gelatin has a high concentration of nutrients and protein which can be hard to get in the Standard American Diet. In this previous post I talk all about why you should be adding gelatin in your diet and fun ways to do so.

6. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a spice that may help keep blood sugar level and lower your cholesterol. This review paper looks at multiple studies and the results it found based off cinnamon being used.

7. Tumric

Tumric is another superstar spice which has anti-inflammatory properties and helps prevent cancer. This study lays out how this yellow spice commonly found in curry powders can be so beneficial to your health.

8. Water

Good old H2O! Drinking water can help prevent cancer, lose weight, flush out bacteria, prevent headaches and help you think clearer. The rule of thumb for water is drink half your body weight in ounces (you weight 140 pounds then you should drink 70oz of water per day).

Sasquatch in the Library

I love books! I like the feel of them. I like marking the pages and dog-earing my favorite passages. Since starting my whole food journey I have found some pretty spectacular books. So today I want to share with you my favorite clean eating books! Most of these books have “paleo” in the title but don’t let that scare you away from the information in them. Paleo just means that they are focusing on foods that are unprocessed and clean which is unarguably the best type of food for your body.

Cookbooks

  • Make It Paleo
    • Bill and Haley have made an amazing and beautifully photographed recipe book. They also have a website filled with amazing recipes and did I mention beautiful photos?!
  • Everyday Paleo
    • Sarah is a mother of three and has written three amazing and easy to follow whole food cookbooks! She also has a website and has a podcast about fitness and paleo nutrition!
  • Practical Paleo
    • Diane has a couple amazing books including 21-Day Sugar Detox which helps you detox from sugar cravings. Practical Paleo is great for people who need an introduction on basic guidelines and a little more guidance on how to go about whole food eating.
  • Well Fed and Well Fed 2
    • Melissa is a food genius! Her recipes are a little more complex but if you want truly amazing food then these are the books to get! My favorite is Stovetop Pork Carnitas and Bora Bora Fireballs which can also be found on her website.
  • Against All Grains
    • Danielle has an inspiring story about how a simple diet change helped her manage a severe autoimmune disease that was threatening her life. She also has a beautiful website filled with amazing recipes but if you are craving some chocolate desserts then I recommend buying her book!
  • Beyond Bacon
    • Written by The Paleo Parents this book is what all cookbooks should posses; a no waste policy! It has amazingly delicious recipes that teaches you how to use every part of a pig. Homestyle Biscuits made with lard are life changing!
  • NomNomPaleo
    • Do you like cartoons, mouth watering photos, food and entertainment? Then this cookbook is for you! Michelle and Henry have created a fantastic cookbook! Their website is equally hilarious and drool worthy!
  • OMG. That’s Paleo?
    • Juli is the lady behind the first paleo blog I ever read. I credit her with my transformation to paleo because of her delicious recipes and hilarious commentary! Seriously. You need to read her blog. Her Breakfast Meatza makes me get up in the morning!

Health Informational Books

  • Paleo Approach:Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body
    • Sarah has a PH. D in medical biophysics (well that’s impressive!). She knows her stuff but explains it to you so simply and with some pretty epic pictures.
  • Eat the Yolks
    • Liz is amazing and in this book she tackles many common nutritional diet myths. If you need proof to make the jump to eating fat and cutting out grains than this is the book for you!  She also has a website and a podcast show with Diane (author of Practical Paleo) which I highly recommend because these ladies blow my mind every time I listen!
  • It Starts With Food
    • Hands down my favorite informational book. This is such an easy read that is packed with info and sections that dive deeper into the reasoning behind why some foods need to be cut from our diets. Melissa and Dallas also have an amazing website which is what first took me on my whole food journey two years ago! They also do seminars which I highly recommend, you get yummy snacks and they explain deeper their thought on the Standard American Diet.
  • Paleo Solutions: The Original Human Diet
    • Do you need deeper scientific evidence before you cut out your delicious bagel and cream cheese? This is the book to read. Robb Wolf explains a deeper science reasoning behind the switch to paleo eating. This book is a little more complex but stacked with some great information that will give you that aha moment!

I have not been given any bribes to list any of these books on my blog (but if you want to be listed next time I could really use a Vitamix blender… *hint*hint*)

These are just a list of the books that have helped me the most through my transition over to a whole food lifestyle. It is a big transition and it is always nice to have books that you can reference consistently as you are trying to get the ropes and also to convince other people that whole, all natural and unprocessed foods is what we should be putting into our bodies!

Do you have any favorite cookbooks or health books?