Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Woman Code De-Coded

I recently finished reading Woman Code by Alisa Vitti.  I was SUPER excited to read this book after listening to her on several interviews with Sean Croxton and a few other places; even Dr. Oz had her on his show.  Unfortunately I was incredibly disappointed.  Like so many self help books, the first 50 pages were spent discussing her life changing story, with some real information thrown in, and lots of stats on just how bad fertility is in the U.S.

Later on when she fianly starts discussing her diet recommendations I was again disappointed that the crux of the nutrition chapter was a measly 3 pages.  3 PAGES!!!  Here and there she throws in a little more, but it's not all in one place or chapter.  At the back of the book she does add another couple pages of nutrition tips for specific concerns such as fatigue, mood swings, or blood sugar problems.  However, they are extremely vague and at times contradictory.  Alisa gives the recommendation to decrease animal protein in one area, while encouraging "healthy proteins" in another.  Yet she never ever discussed what constitutes a healthy protein.  As the reader am I supposed to just guess?

Fatigue: Increase Healthy Protein
Irritability: Reduce Animal Protein (what if I irritable from low blood sugar?, see next line)
Mood Swings and Sugar Lows: Increase Healthy Protein
Low Libido: Increase beans (why, so I can feel bloated and gassy and super sexy?)

Where is she getting her information for these recommendations?

She also encourages consuming soy in the form of tofu for certain issues such as.  Apparently she has never read anything by Dr. Kaayla Daniel to learn that soy is not a food humans should be eating.  And instead of spending so much time on her 4 day detox (which includes almost no protein, and would leave me with major blood sugar issues), I would have like to see an actual discussion on why women need protein and fats to help make and balance all their hormones.  To some extent, I wonder if Alisa was worried about alienating certain sects of society (vegetarians, vegans, fat phobics) by encouraging more animal protein and animal fats specifically.  She recommends using hemp protein in smoothies, but never discusses why she chooses to not recommend whey or egg-white protein.

Alisa briefly discusses eliminating dairy and gluten to test for sensitivities, however the elimination period is a measly 4 days.  For many people, especially those with a delayed immune response (IgG antibody mediated) this is simply not long enough to determine if they do or do not have a sensitivity.  Skin reactions, brain fog, and sinus congestion can take weeks to clear up.  Same with intestinal problems depending upon severity.  Dr. Davis, author of "Wheat Bellies" does an excellent job of describing how some people take several weeks to fully detox gluten out of their system.  When I recommend a gluten free or dairy free diet, the minimum time off these foods should be 4-6 weeks.  This allows enough time for the body to begin detoxing and healing, allowing the person to actually see/feel the difference.

The last half of the book (50 pages) discusses self exploration with some other lifestyle & sex recommendations as well.  This is quite different from many other self-help books.  I had a bit of a hard time following all of it, but that's probably just my type A personality coming through.  Or I was still irritated at how little time was spent on providing good sound nutrition advice.

Areas I did find interesting and informative were:
Pg 64-discusses how different hormones interact with one another and other organ systems.  Makes one realize how no system is separate.  The body works as a whole and everything is cyclical.
Pg 114-overview of the menstrual cycle.  I was a little confused with how she starts the discussion mid follicular phase (day 7-13) instead of starting with day 1 of the menstrual phase.
Pg 116-list of foods to eat for each phase of the menstrual cycle.  This is intriguing, but I tend to eat eggs a lot, not just during my leuteal phase.  I also really really like avocados, and don't plan on limiting them to only one week per month.  It's a little concerning that Alisa does not give any references on why she created this list in this order.  Some of the foods make sense to me, but others I'm baffled by.
Pg 159-Alisa briefly describes carb cycling (eating different amounts of carbohydrate) during different phases of the menstrual cycle.  Women can also couple this with alternating between doing more cardio and yoga during their follicular and ovulation phases, compared to more HIIT during the leuteal phase.  Jade Teta from Metabolic Effect has several good articles on this practice. Molly G. from Girls Gone Strong also discusses carb cycling.  It's something I've considered playing around with, but haven't quite found my groove with.
Pg 181-there are several scenarios that often happen to people that get them off track.  The office Christmas party or a night on the town with the girls.  I liked that Alisa provided advice on how to handle and recover from a night/day of overindulging or poor blood sugar control.  HOWEVER.... her recommendation to bring sweet potatoes or a quinoa salad to your family function seems backwards to me.  Most women eat too many carbs, and are insulin resistant, and most parties focus on eating lots of carbs.  Why recommend bringing more?  Why not encourage women to make deviled eggs or mini meatballs for protein instead?

Overall her message is good and empowers women to take charge of their health.  She writes, "feed and move your body in ways that work with it's natural rhythms."  I just wish she would have spent more time on the diet/nutrition portion rather than spending so much of her book talking about herself.  If you already have a strong nutrition background and know what works for you, don't bother with this book.  If you want to learn more about hormones, particularly how hormones shift during the menstrual cycle then yes, this could be for you.  It's not that I want to be negative, I was just very disappointed in the book as a whole.

I was impressed with the fact that on her website (floliving.com), if you e-mail her/the company they actually answer you back!

Even more recently I also read through Dr. Kalish's book "Your Guide to Healthy Hormones."  While he too does a good job of giving an overview on how hormones affect different aspects of our lives (mostly female lives) he gives almost no information on how to fix hormone imbalances.  That's probably because he wants you to call him up for a consult so he can help you determine your metabolic type.  Towards the end he does encourage people to try going gluten free, and his food recommendations are spot on.  He just doesn't discuss how much of anything to eat.
Again, if you want information on hormones, give this a read.  It's easy to understand and very short (100 pages, but ginormous margins).

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Down With Artificial Junk

I've written about artificial sweeteners in the past, not necessarily for or against, just giving people basic information.  However, in my personal life, and what I recommend for my clients, is to avoid them all except for the occasional stevia and xylitol.  But this is an e-mail I recently received and my response.

Dear Brenna,
As the creator of “Eating Simple” and a nutrition professional, you know that numerous government agencies as well as the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association and the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics have all reviewed low- and no-calorie sweeteners and found them to be safe and effective. On Tuesday, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released a complete risk assessment of aspartame and once again reaffirmed its safety for the general population, including pregnant women.  EFSA also concluded that, based on the evidence, aspartame does not cause cancer, harm the brain or nervous system or affect behavior or cognitive function of children or adults.
You can learn more about this opinion, which supports decades of scientific research as well as positions of regulatory agencies around the globe, including the FDA, at the EFSA website, the International Food Information Council (IFIC), the Calorie Control Council, Food Navigator as well as  Let’s Clear It Up. If you would like to talk with any experts, please let us know.
My Response:
Aspartame is a chemical, plain and simple. It is not a food. Our bodies are not deficient in it or other non-calorie sweeteners. I will NEVER EVER recommend that people consume it. My clients lose weight eating real foods, not fake foods created in a manufacturing facility.

If all these other professional organizations actually cared about people's health, and knew what good nutrition was, instead of being sheep and following the almighty dollar their patients might actually get healthy too.
So there you have it.  I do not support fake foods, artificial foods, or food additives.  In the words of Sean Croxton from underground wellness, 'Just Eat Real Foods.' 
JERF on.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Delectable Green Bean (BACON!) Casserole

I looked back and couldn't remember if I ever posted a recipe for a Green Bean Casserole I made for Thanksgiving and Christmas a couple years ago. Pretty sure I did, but didn't see it, so I figured I would give the recipe for what I cooked up yesterday.  Yes I realize this is a little late...but if you've got an upcoming holiday party or family gathering or infamous church potluck, bring this along and wow your friends.

Originally I had thought about trying to make homemade onion rings or strings, but that just seemed like a lot of work, and a very messy, greasy kitchen.  Instead I came up with the idea to top the casserole with crispy bacon.  Please use pasture raised, organic, nitrate free bacon for this recipe.  Since you are cooking in the rendered fat, you want to make sure what you have is high quality.  Animals store toxins, antibiotic residue, and hormones in their fat, which is why we bought 1/2 a hog from a family friend.  Now our new freezer is full of delicious (once happy) pork.

I kept the canned green beans because it's what most people are used to, but you could certainly replace them with 2# of frozen or fresh green beans.  If going with fresh, make sure to blanch them before putting them in the casserole

Green Bean Bacon Casserole
1# bacon
1 onion, minced
8oz button mushrooms, minced
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbs grainy mustard
1/2-3/4c Heavy cream or coconut milk
5 egg yolks
Salt and pepper to taste
5 cans green beans, drained

1. Cook Bacon until crisp, then drain on paper towels.  Reserve the bacon grease and pour it all into a large skillet over medium heat.  If for some reason you've decided to use lean turkey bacon, you will need to substitute about 1/2 cup of butter/duck fat/ghee/coconut oil for the bacon grease.

2. Sautee the onion and mushrooms in the grease for 10 minutes.

3. Stir in the garlic powder, mustard, and cream. Remove from heat.

4. Whisk in the egg yolks.

5.  Lightly grease a 9X13" casserole dish.  Combine green beans and sauce in the casserole dish.  Crumble bacon all over the top.

6. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes if you are baking it right away.  Or increase the time to 45+ minutes if you are preparing one day and baking the next.

7. ENJOY!  I also thought if you had leftover turkey or ham you could chop it up and toss it in.  Then serve it with a side of mashed sweet potatoes.  Yum Yum Yum.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

I Heart Teeccino

A couple months ago I discovered Teeccino.  It's coffee flavored tea!  They are caffeine free and essentially gluten free, and use as many organic ingredients as possible.  Barley is the confounding gluten ingredient.  However, the teeccino website claims that most people with gluten sensitivities and even people with celiac tolerate their beverages which contain < 5 ppm of gluten in the average cup.  For reference, a food can only be labeled gluten free if it contains < 20 ppm. Teeccino also boasts added health benefits with their drinks such as fiber, antioxidants, potassium for heart health, and liver detoxification with the dandelion varieties. 

I first bought a box of the french roast sachets, and enjoyed drinking them at work in the afternoon during our long cold spring.  Now that the weather has turned cold again (after our short summer), I've started having cravings for of all things...hot chocolate.  Particularly in the afternoon between clients.  While stocking up on meat from Fresh and Natural yesterday I discovered the ultimate Teechino flavor.  BEHOLD--Chocolate Mint!!!  Unlike the sachet, you actually brew the loose grounds like you would coffee.  The combination of: carob, barley, chicory, dates, almonds, natural chocolate flavor, cocoa powder, peppermint leaves, fig, and peppermint oil makes this drink taste almost exactly like a Caribou Mint-Condition mocha.  But without all the sugar and gut bloating lactose!  And honestly,  I don't actually remember the last time I had a real latte or mocha.

Over the past month Ryan has been working on reducing his coffee/caffeine consumption.  He's gone from almost 1 pot of regular coffee, down to 2-4 cups of 1/2 caff or decaff per day.  As you might imagine, the first couple weeks were rather brutal.  His biggest complaint is that he LOVES the flavor of coffee and craves it after lunch.  Personally, I think his adrenal glands CRAVE the caffeine.  But what do I know?  :-)  

Any who...After cleaning out the shed/barn for 2 hours in the cold and wind, we warmed up by french pressing ourselves some minty teeccino.  I stirred in a tablespoon of organic heavy cream for added latte effect.  Mmmmmmm.....  Next time I will buy a bag of the unflavored variety for when mint flavor won't do.  For now though, this is totally hitting my hot chocolate and Ryan's coffee craving spot.  I also get the feeling that I'm going to be drinking a lot of it over the next 6 weeks as I wrap up my thesis.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Breakfast Bowl Showdown

Jimmy Dean Delights Turkey Sausage Breakfast Bowl


Nothing like starting your day with a big bowl of hydrogenated fat and MSG to make you insulin resistant.


Brenna's Leftover Breakfast Bowl


I Win!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Super Foods For a Super Week

In an attempt to get prepared for the next week, maybe month... I spent my Sunday and Monday evenings cooking up some super foods so I can have a super week.  As of today I officially have 2 classes left until the completion of my masters program.  For the next 12 weeks I'll be working my tail off on a research project, probably something related to cancer prevention.  But to keep myself eating well I'm loading up on super foods.

Yesterday I shredded up a batch of kraut for fermenting.  I've only got a pint jar left and I hope it lasts me another 3 weeks until this batch is ready.  The crunchy, salty, fermenty flavor is delicious on my typical lunch salads.  This time I added turmeric to the cabbage and carrots.  Hopefully that, the garlic, and the growing probiotics will keep me healthy during this stressful time.
Weighing down my salted cabbage before it gets canned/jarred for 3+ weeks.
Since I had the world largest head of cabbage from the Farmer's Market, I just kept shredding it and created a crisp slaw using Tessemae's salad dressing. (still have almost 1/2 of the cabbage left.)  I bought the ranch flavor, it's light and not very strong; next time I need a jar I think I'll go with a different flavor.  Sometimes even I like to have a pre-made dressing in the fridge.  Since the ingredients are 100% real, as in actual olive oil, I have no reservations about buying it...other than the price.
As much as I love sardines, I also love canned salmon.  The freezer stash of salmon patties was getting low so I made 12 more.  On a busy morning, nothing beats grabbing a couple patties and frozen veggies for supper at work.  The bones in canned salmon and sardines are super for bone health, I try and eat at least one serving per week, but I usually get in two.  The omega 3 fatty acids are also great for cardiovascular, brain, and gut health.  Not to mention cancer prevention.  While forming the salmon patties, I simultaneously roasted 10 chicken legs for work lunches this week and then tried a miso glazed eggplant recipe using mini eggplants from the market.  Totally not worth it.  I love miso and asian flavors, but this was nothing spectacular.  However, it's food, it's made, I'll eat it.
Wild Planet sardines on top of chopped peppers, zucchini, and wild rice.
Continuing my effort to clean out toxins from my life, I bought a ceramic coated non-stick pan from TARGET! and only $25.  This morning it wilted my spinach for breakfast, tonight I used it to cook up my first attempt at beef liver.
non-stick and non-toxic, bye bye teflon
Remember how I had this random 2013 goal to eat liver 2x each month...well I kind of fell off the wagon.  But I'm back on with 4 months left.  This was spurred on by a slightly low hemoglobin reading at my physical last week.  Hopefully more beef and more liver in my life will remedy this without having to resort to an iron supplement.  Last week I created a breakfast loaf using Beeler's Sausage, chicken livers, a green apple, extra rosemary, and garlic.  Now when I don't want eggs, I have a super nutritious, high protein option awaiting me in the freezer.  But tonight I ventured into the land of beef liver.  I used this recipe...it wasn't bad.  Since my pan is non-stick I'm not sure if I got the appropriate sear on the liver.  The texture is a little different, but not unpleasant.  It would probably behoove me to actually eat some prepared by an experienced chef/cook.  I consider it a success since I would definitely make it again.  Apparently the leftovers are even better, I foresee delicious dinner awaiting me in a couple nights.
Liver, peaches and onions, and Tessemae slaw
I mentioned the farmer's market several times during this post and for good reason.  Can we say money saver!  for $16 I bought:
1 Massive head of cabbage
1 pt organic cherry tomatoes
2-3# mini egg plants
4 small organic green peppers
2-3# mini (pickling) cucumbers-great for snacks
1 doz. pastured eggs
I could have finished off my produce shopping there, but I ran out of cash.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Great MN Get Together

Once again Ryan and I visited the Great Minnesota Get Together, AKA the State Fair.  This year I was on my best behavior and I avoided the GLUTEN!  Which was much easier since the Northland Celiac Support Group had a list posted online of all the GF food vendors.  Dairy did sneak in here and there, but since I barely ate any fried food or sugary confections, I didn't leave feeling awful.  

After a cup of coffee and a look around, we found a short line for Pronto Pups.  I thought these were Ryan's favorites, but I think that might be the dairy barn.  After a Strawberry Rhubarb Malt in the AM and a twist cone in PM, he had a bit of tummy ache.

I sought out the French Meadow Bakery for their GF risotto poppers.  They were my deep fried food of the day.  Crunchy on the outside, warm and gooey and a little cheesy on the inside.  This is what CBS MN had to say: 

Gluten-Free Risotto Poppers – Arborio rice balls with black beans, cheese, scallions and spices, hand-rolled and dipped in tapioca flour and egg wash, then dipped in gluten-free crushed corn tortilla chips. At French Meadow Bakery, located on Carnes Avenue, between Nelson and Underwood streets

Didn't use much of the ancho chili dip, they already had enough of a kick.  I almost went back for more.  They better have these next year, even Ryan said they were "legit." I didn't notice if they were frying them in the same batter as their Dough-Sant, then they would actually be cross contaminated and someone with Celiac Disease, or a severe gluten sensitivity could feel the effects.

Nothing like a little Beer and Wine Tasting from the local breweries and Vineyards.

The Mill Street Red was the best.  The Edelweiss was too dry even for me. 

Ryan just had to get his fried cheese curds, apparently they are trans fat free...I've got news for them.  When you fry anything, and especially when you fry foods repeatedly in the same oil, the oil becomes oxidized and is almost as bad for you as a trans fat. This includes my risotto poppers. 

This is a terrible picture, on the left are Ryan's cheese curds, he didn't eat all of them cause he said if he did he was going to be sick.  On the Right is my Bison Kabob (they marinate it in GF tamari).  Totally not worth my $9.50.  The Bison was so over cooked and chewy, couldn't even tell I was eating bison vs. any other over cooked red meat. Never again.

Not pictured were Ryan's 2 ice-cream treats from the Dairy building and our Pork Chops on a stick.  While those were GF, they did contain MSG and were crazy salty; so salty I can't believe I thought they were good last year.  My plan for next year is to again look up the GF list, hopefully have some risotto poppers, and then have a Gyro salad...those looked mighty tasty.  

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Better Baby Book Review

First stop after landing in Anaheim
August was one busy month.  We were gone the first three weekends traveling to Quincy to visit my 93yr old grandma, then to Anaheim to give a presentation at APCO, and then to Chicago so Ryan could hang out with his meatball (Greg, my brother-in-law) at the Midwest Brewers Fest.  While I could write about all the delicious and naughty things I ate during these travels, I'll write instead about the book I read.  

I'm semi-hooked on Dave Asprey's podcast, the bulletproof exec. This past year he and his wife Lana released The Better Baby Book.  No, I'm not planning on getting pregnant anytime soon, but the other NWW nutritionists and myself are seeing an influx of expecting moms with gestational
Breakfast at Early Bird 
diabetes, severe morning sickness (hyperemesis gravidarum), and other complications.  So I figured it would be good to read a book on pregnancy.  From what I've gathered, this probably isn't like many other pregnancy books that simply tell you to eat healthy, avoid deli meat, and get lots of sleep.  Nope, Dave and Lana tell you WHY.  Their point is to help you create the healthiest, smartest, most bulletproof baby around, so their recommendations can sometimes be more than what a person is willing or able to do. Thankfully, they do say several times to do the best you can, and even if you do  nothing, the chances of having a healthy baby are still pretty high.

First Beer Sample
 Main points:
1. Avoid toxins-particularly micotoxins (mold)
2. Eat lots of healthy fats
3. Eat lots of organic vegetables
4. Get adequate amounts of sleep/rest in a very dark room
5. Be at peace and think happy thoughts.
6. Have the father help with 1-5.

What I didn't like:
1. Information overload!
2. Several times he refers you to the webpage for products and more info, but it seems like there is a lot of missing info on the web page.
3. No references to the over 1000 sources he 'cites' in his book.  Dude, it's called a bibliography.
4. There are parts of the book written in 3rd person when it should be in 1st person. I know the book was a joint venture, but when they all of a sudden say "Lana ate 3 egg yolks every day" the transition is a little weird.  I thought Lana wrote the book.
5. He references 2 smart drugs that have not been approved for use in pregnant women...so why mention them at all then?

Several chapters are dedicated to nutrients/supplements needed by women, and again, they say they have a link on their webpage to all these great brands of supplements, but I found the information and links there, lacking.  Also, it really bothers me when multiple supplements are suggested, but unlike Julia Ross in her books 'The Mood Cure' and 'The Diet Cure,' the Asprey's did not feel it necessary to give concise supplementation protocol. So I did it for you!  I made sure the multi meets the requirements for Folic Acid and other B-vitamins, unfortunately most supplements do not use folate or folinic acid, instead they use folic acid, the less desirable form.  Depending upon the mulit, someone may want to take extra calcium.

Multi Vitamin
NutriKey Twice A Day (Folic Acid not Folinic, high in other B-vitamins, selenium, zinc, iodine)
Vitamin Code Prenatal (Folinic Acid-but lower in other B-vitamins, selenium, zinc, iron, iodine)
Metagenics Fem-Prenatal (Folic Acid, higher in Iron, Iodine, and zinc, and selenium)

Vitamin D
NutriKey 5000IU  (1 per day)

Metagenics Cal Apatite  (1 per day)
Ortho Molecular Reacted Calcium  (2-4 per day)

Glycinate (4-8 per day)
Citrate-good for treating constipation (3-4tsp)

DHA (I disagree with his whole Krill oil being better than Fish oil, instead I typically recommend straight DHA during pregnancy)
NutriKey 200mg (3 per day)
Nordic Naturals DHA (3-4 per day)

Cod Liver oil
3 Care Therapeutics-unfermented (1-2 tsp per day)
Green Pasture-Fermented (1-2 tsp or 2-4 capsules per day)

NutriKey Bifido Balance (3-6 capsules per day)

Bulletproof Upgraded (1 pump per day)
Metagenics GlutaClear (2 per day)

Nutrikey Powder (1-1.5 tsp per day)
Nutrikey Capsules (3-6 capsules per day)

Sunflower Lecithin
Love Raw Foods (1-2 Tbs per day)

What I've taken away and am doing, it's never to early to prepare for pregnancy:
1. Eating more raw egg yolks.
2. Clearing out some of my toxic beauty products including hair-spray and leave-in conditioner.
3. Continuing to work on stress management.
4. Detoxing my body using Dynamic Greens, maybe someday I'll buy some activated charcoal. 
5. Attempting to reduce my exposure to EMFs

I'll probably do another post on this book discussing the bulletproof baby diet.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Cooking up a Paleo Storm

In between work and class projects I've some how found the time to read a few paleo books.  While I don't follow the paleo diet 100%, and Ryan certainly doesn't; most of our meals are fairly compliant.  As an NWW dietitian the diet we recommend is relatively close to paleo, but for many clients we still allow them to eat some bread or crackers, whole grains, beans, and dairy  if we feel their body/metabolism can handle it.  This is in contrast to people following a strict paleo diet who forgo all grains (except the occasional rice), beans and lentils, and dairy (except butter and cream).  One thing NWW and paleo have in common 100% is NO SUGAR!  Or at least keeping it very minimal.

Back to what I've read.  First up was It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.  This was a great book.  They did a fantastic job describing insulin resistance and leaky gut in terms anyone can understand.  Their Whole30 diet challenge is a great way to get people to make changes and feel the difference.  Plus you can log onto their whole9life web page for more support and reading.  The writing style is inspiring, and keeps the reader engaged. But my favorite part are the meal planners.  Instead of several recipes, they provide a basic skill such as browning ground meat, and then give different veggie and spice options to add variety.  I've actually made copies of these for a couple of clients who were overwhelmed with cooking and getting bored with the few things they know how to cook.  While I have not made any of their one skillet meals yet, I was inspired to make picadillo for the first time in a long time.

Next up was Practical Paleo by   This is a big book.  Similar to ISWF, Practical Paleo starts out with an explanation of gut health, and hormone balance, and a few other topics.  What I like about PP over ISWF are the pictures, especially the one about Poop.  Yes, she covers why poop looks the way it does, what is normal and why abnormal poop happens.  Speaking of poop... lets talk about fermentation and how I love to make kraut.  Maybe the connection isn't obvious to you yet, but fermented food introduce good bacteria into our digestive system.  We've been joking at work about setting up a sauerkraut station in the back room, maybe not the best idea.  But one of the opening recipes in the book is for homemade sauerkraut, I couldn't pass it up.  In another week or two, we will have spicy purple kraut!

After flipping through the recipes Ryan really wanted to make the jalapeno burgers with sweet potato buns.  But before that I made a couple of the seasoning blends and ferment some purple cabbage.  I used the cooling blend on chicken legs and threw a little of the chorizo blend in our morning eggs.  The burgers were tasty, a neat combination between the savory meat and the sweet "buns"; which are really just potato pancakes.  I ate mine open face, while Ryan went burger style.  He pulled stumps in the backyard for 3 hours, so he could use the extra carbs.  Next up from this book, Apple Egg Muffins!

Roasted zucchini to go with our burgers topped with avocado and a little cheddar.

That's a tasty burger.

For the novice home cook the recipe section of this book starts out with a how-to guide on cutting and chopping.  This is a very smart move on her part since many people do not even know basic cooking skills such as chopping an onion.

On the side I've also been reading the Civilized Caveman blog.  From his recipes I made the Sweet Potato Ginger brownies, and a couple days later used the leftovers to make french toast for sunday breakfast.  Mmm Mmm Mmm.  However, I'm coming to the realization that I don't really like the texture of bake goods that only use coconut flour.  His banana bread is supposed to be amazing, so when I get a chance (and some ripe bananas) that will definitely be in my oven.

Last but not least, cucumbers.  We picked up a giant bag of pickling cucumbers from the farmers market yesterday, they are super tasty.  I knew I would make a cucumber-dill-tomato salad for the Night to Unite block party, but what else?  Then I thought...duh...make pickles.  I've never made pickles before but I know how it's done.  Of course knowing me I didn't want to make them the quick refrigerator way, nope, I want to ferment mine!  So thanks to Mark Sisson, it was easy to pull p a recipe on making fermented pickles.  I got to try these just this morning.  They are delicious and crunchy, and super salty.

Ok everybody, get out there read, cook, and ferment!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Eating Mindfully

I've found that that I am not very good at paying attention to my food.  I noticed this while working in Georgia.  Instead of actually taking a lunch break, I would grab my salad or sandwich and eat at my desk, just working away.  I thought this made me a better employee.  These days I work on my masters class while eating breakfast.  I sit at the table with Ryan, completely ignoring him, chowing on my eggs and writing my discussion board posts.  While at work, I still eat at my desk between clients, answering e-mails or doing research, mindlessly chomping on salads or stuffing meatballs in my mouth.  And lately, since Ryan has been working in DC during the week, I come home and eat supper or a snack in front of the TV.  This has to stop!  I eat and barely realize it.  People criticize teens (and adults) for eating snack foods while playing video games or watching TV... eating balanced meals in front of electronics or in the car isn't much better.

So for the past couple weeks, I've made a conscious effort to close my lap top and move away from my work computer during meal time.  Some days are more successful than others.  However, I'm finding that when I do shun my electronics (which now includes an iphone), meals have become more satisfying.  Instead of mindlessly chewing and not actually tasting my food, I've discovered a few interesting preferences.  Examples: As much as I try to enjoy kale in my eggs, I don't like it as much as spinach. Sauteed kale gets chewy.  And Paleo bread isn't very good for dunking in my coffee, it doesn't toast well either.  It finally dawned on me that I seriously don't care about rice.  It's not that I don't like it, I just don't see any point in making it for myself, it's just bland and starchy.  I've also found that I really like sugar snap peas dipped in mayo, but I also really really really like them sauteed in butter.

Some people will say that when eating we need to be completely present and only think about the meal.  I'm not to that point, and it's not a goal of mine either.  My mind tends to wander, meal time is definitely not a meditative experience for me.  But powering down makes it easier for me to feel satisfied after meals.  Of course, I have not been 100% perfect with this change, last week I had a final project due for class and ate breakfast while proof-reading my paper.  This morning I really wanted to watch the news since I've been feeling out of the loop; so that was on while I ate breakfast.  Yesterday was much more successful.  I ate breakfast with mom (then drove to Minnesota) and even though both lunch and supper were eaten at work, I pushed away from my computer and chatted with Shirley at the front desk in our office.

The question I have not yet answered is this; is there any benefit to eating more mindfully?  Or at least not eating in front of an electronic device?  A quick search on pubmed reveals that yes, mindfulness matters.
1. It helps people lose weight, and control binge eating behavior.
2. It lowers stress levels and CRP.
3. It prevents weight gain.
4. Mindful eating decreases serving sizes, helping people eat less.
5. While not exactly mindful, family meal times have also been shown to be beneficial.

So this week I challenge you to close your lap top, push away from your desk, turn off the TV, silence your phone and just eat.  Chew your food instead of inhaling it.   Eat at a table, not in the car and not at your desk.  Chat with your coworker in the office break room, have a conversation instead of texting at the restaurant.  Listen to the radio if you eat alone, or eat outside if the weather is nice.  Whatever you do, get away from the screens.

My mindful meals for the rest of the day include:
Lunch-Big salad with leftover grilled chicken from Sunday's supper.
Snack-Core Support mixed with coconut milk
Supper-Trader Joes chicken sausage with roasted yellow pepper/mushrooms/carrot and olives.
Snack if I need it-almond butter on a spoon.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Eat Up!

After clients have been working on their meal plans for a while, they often get bored with their food options.  Not because I tell them that's all they can eat, but because that's all they think to eat.  Meal plans are really just a blue print, the options you can make out of them are endless.  You just have to get a little creative.  This week, thanks to my new iphone, I've been taking pictures of my lunches and a few other things, so here is a week of what I've eaten!

Sunday:  Eggs and rice crackers with TJ goat's milk creamy cheese, Roasted chicken thighs and big salad, grilled salmon and sauteed green beans (and red wine with Rich, Ryan's dad, he did the grilling)

Monday:  Eggs and Veggies, Applegate Roast beef Rudis Wrap with carrot sticks and guacamole (I was at the car shop and needed something I could eat with my fingers while waiting, 1/2 lara bar, leftover chicken thighs and green beans.

Tuesday: Eggs and Veggies, leftover chicken thighs and 1/2 sweet potato and salad, pearberry smoothie for supper between clients, 1 scrambled egg with cheese and almond flour carrot muffin as a bedtime snack.

Wednesday: Eggs and Veggies, post workout whey protein shake, sauteed ground beef and purple cabbage on 1/2 leftover sweet potato, raw cheddar cheese and TJ bison jerky mid afternoon,  leftover chicken sausage thing I made a while back and froze,  1/2 lara bar and 2 hardboiled eggs with Hain mayo as bedtime snack.

Thursday: 2 Mini salmon loafs and veggies and 1/3 pear, last of the chicken thighs with 1/2 sweet potato and frozen broccoli, Ground beef/cabbage on big salad.

Friday:  Eggs and Veggies Duh!  Ground beef/cabbage over 1/2 leftover sweet potato, supper out with mom and dad (I had a grilled salmon cobb salad).

Saturday: Broccoli & Tomato frittata before starting work on the new house, chicken salad and veggies from Byerlys, 2 homemade protein balls,  crockpot chicken taco salad with the whole family!  And wine, of course.

As you can see, by making a few bigger batches of things, chicken thighs, baked sweet potatoes, and my random beef mixture, I was able to eat a variety of foods without getting bored.  It does take a little planning, but I was able to eat well all week long.  The key is making sure you have enough ingredients on hand.  Oh, and a big enough lunch box to pack it all in!

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Now that summer is kind of here...if you count wearing a coat to work at the beginning of June as summer that is...I've gotten into making smoothies.  While did this a little bit last year, over the winter I pretty much abandoned it in favor of snacks that wouldn't leave me needing a hot cup of tea afterwards.  However, a couple weeks ago I rediscovered the blender and out of necessity came up with my new favorite smoothie; PearBerry.  Now after a hard workout, I turn to this cup of deliciousness for a boost of protein and a little bit of carbohydrate.  Of course you could do just blueberry or just strawberry, but the small amount of pear makes it a little bit sweeter, and I think it helps thicken it up a bit.

1/2 - 1 scoop whey protein
1/3 ripe pear
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2-1 cup Water or ice or carton almond/coconut milk
Supplemental Carnitine or Glutamine (optional)
1 scoop dynamic greens (optional)
1 big handful baby spinach (optional)

As a post workout snack you don't want too much fat getting in the way of your digestion and absorption of the protein. You might be wondering about a couple of the optional items.  For people looking to lose fat, adding carnitine can help your body shuttle any free-fatty acids into your muscle's mitochondria and use it for energy.  Glutamine aids in muscle recovery, and can also help reduce soreness or DOMS.  The dynamic greens are basically just freeze dried, powdered, fruits and veggies.  They provide a huge hit of antioxidants that will neutralize free-radicals created during your workout.  My other favorite combo for smoothies is raspberry with the chocolate dynamic greens.  It tastes like desert.  Baby spinach because it's good for you.  Same concept as the dynamic greens, but not quite as many antioxidants.  Mostly it's just a way to say you got in another serving of leafy green vegetable.

If I make a smoothie as a meal I add extra fat to help keep me full.  Usually 1/2 cup of canned coconut milk or 1/2 an avocado.  Mmm Mmm Mmm.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Goat Cheese Lasagna

Ryan is in DC for the next two weeks, and will be flying back and forth for the next two months.  I can already tell life is going to be very quiet around here.  With him out of the house it leaves me a little more time to experiment with new recipes.  I found this low carb lasagna on Maria Emmerich's blog.  For people with a cows milk sensitivity this is perfect for them since it uses goat cheese instead.

I wasn't a fan of using 3 pounds of meat, so I replaced the ground beef with 2 zucchinis and 8 oz of chopped mushrooms.  The more veggies the better! I sauteed and drained the zucchini/mushrooms and thought most of the liquid was gone, but after baking the whole thing I still had to drain quite a bit off.  In the future I might try and squeeze the water out of the cooked veggies and see if that works better.  Might add some cooked spinach too. Instead of deli chicken I used Applegate roast beef for the noodles, it just made more sense to me.

Maria's recipe calls for 4 cups of shredded cheese, I figured a little over 1/2 a pound would be enough, but actually I ended up needing about 1 pound.  Even without the full 4 cups, the recipe still came out delicious.  It is a little difficult to cut through the roast beef noodles (maybe chicken would have worked better after all...) then tend to shred apart.  Even for a fussy casserole, I'd say this recipe is worth the time and effort.  Actually, I would make this before I ever try the eggplant/zucchini noodle version again.
As you can see, I made a trip to Trader Joes for most of my ingredients.  But then I went to the Co-op for my Beeler's ground sausage.  There also I found raw goats milk cheese, which I think I would use in the future.  Since TJ had the cheese, I just decided to buy it there, not knowing if or what I would find later.

I couldn't believe it though, the organic marinara Sauce and the organic mushroom spaghetti sauce are the only sauces out of at least 8 that do not contain soybean oil!  Ack! Don't eat that stuff.
Several pots and pans later....we have lasagna!  Forgot to mention that I also had some leftover wine from the weekend that I poured into the sauce for a little added flavor and polyphenols.

Mmmmm.... Success.  Side salad of romaine lettuce with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Maria says the recipe feeds 12, but those would be some mighty small slices.  I was able to cut mine into 8 slices, and they seem adequate.  After eating one for dinner, I stored 3 slices in individual containers for the week, the other 4 went in the freezer for Ryan to try when he gets back from DC.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Surviving a Cold or Flu

Work has been crazy.  It seems like I've been working about 80% of my weekends for the past 4 months.  On the weekends I haven't worked, we have been in Iowa for birthdays and weddings.  And then a few weeks back Ryan got sick.  Really sick. A nasty chest/head cold went through his office and turned him into a very grumpy person for about 9 days.  He even took one day off of work, which for him is unheard of.  And then he gave it to me!  But thanks to my super immune system, I didn't get it near as bad (just a sore throat), and I got over it in about 3 days.

So what do you do when you catch a cold or the flu?
1. Stay home from work.  Quit making excuses for why you can't stay home from work, and just do it!  Business will go on as usual with out you.  It's one day, and yes you can afford it.  (There are some people who literally cannot afford it, but most of us can.)  Stay home, rest, recuperate, and stop the spread of the nastiness.

2. Stay hydrated. You don't have to drink plain water.  Actually, you never have to drink plain water.  Enjoy a cup of tea for the antioxidants.  Add a slice of lemon or lime to cold or hot water.  Sip on warm chicken, beef, or vegetable broth.  And before bed, have a hot toddy!  (Hot water + Slice of lemon + 1-2tsp honey + 1 shot of whiskey)  You'll sleep like a baby.

3. Eat whatever sounds good to you.  If ice cream sounds good, then buy some Hagen Daz and enjoy it.  If your stomach is churning, focus on broth based soups and cooked vegetables.  For an easy dinner, have a family member pick up a rotisserie chicken and some frozen vegetables.  If all you want is toast, then have toast with butter on it.  Whatever you do, listen to your body, it's trying to tell you something.  Sick days are not times to try and eat perfectly.  But you should still avoid things such as soda crackers which have no nutritional value and are loaded with trans-fats.  After a day or two, when the worst is over, get back to eating real foods in balance.

4. Sleep, sleep, sleep.  If you want to go to bed at 6pm when you get from work (obviously you are taking tomorrow off), then go to bed.

5. Exercise a little.  Seriously, if you are not sick enough to stay home, or you did and now you are feeling better, get a little physical activity.  Exercise raises body temperature, and if your core temp is up, then any remaining bacteria and viruses are less likely to survive.  Essentially you are sweating out the bad stuff.  If your cold is in your chest/lungs I do not necessarily recommend this.  But if it's just in your nose, go for a walk/jog/run/swim/bike/zumba... It doesn't have to be high intensity or long lasting, 10-20 minutes is all you need.  There's a good chance you will feel better afterwards.  I'm not sure this is scientifically proven, I just know it works for me.

So now that you are feeling better, you better get back to work and pick up the slack from everyone who decided not to take a day off!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Goal: Eat More Liver

It's the end of January, have you been sticking with your 2013 resolution or goals.  Remember, goals should be SMART.

Instead of just saying "I'm going to lose weight."  or  "I'm finaly going to get healthy."  or  "I'm going to go to the gym more."  You need to pick specific ways in which you are going to achieve your desired results.

I'm going to lose weight by meeting with a nutritionist this month to help me create a meal plan I can stick with.

I'm going to to stop drinking my morning diet soda, and replace it with sparkling water.

I'm going to go to the gym Tuesday and Thursday mornings to lift weights for 45 minutes.

So what is my 2013 goal?  I've been doing a lot of reading lately...hazard of the job, and the benefits of liver keep popping up.  From MarksDailyApple, Nourishing Traditions, to The Gaps Diet, they all tout the benefits of liver.  Therefore my 2013 goal is to eat liver (at least 1 ounce) 2x each month.  So far, I've only used chicken livers since a local market carries free range livers for $2/pound.  Last fall I pureed a whole pound into my chicken patties.  They turned out dry since liver is very lean and too irony tasting.  The beginning of January I bought another pound and just lightly fried them in coconut oil, then layered them with waxed paper in a tupperware to freeze.  While I'm not a fan of the iron flavor or the crumbly texture.  I figure it's good for me, so I'm going to do it.  I cut a few up on a salad, and have tried them in my eggs.  So far I think the eggs are the winner.  I can mask the taste and texture with plenty of veggies and hot sauce.

Why liver?  Liver is an edible multi-vitamin  One ounce of chicken livers (2-3 livers) contains: 75% DV Vitamin A, 40% Folate, 79% B12, 18% iron, 33% Selenium.

However, when I'm out of my chicken livers I'm going to have to step up my game and buy beef.  1 ounce will give you: 146% DV Vitamin A, 18% Folate, 388% B12, 10% Iron, 204% Copper, 13% Selenium.

Vitamin A: Potent antioxidant, great for people with acne or digestive issues
Folate: Needed for cell replication and prevention of spinabifida
B12: Prevents neuropathy and depression
Iron: Carries oxygen in the blood
Selenium: Potent antioxidant that protects against cancer
Copper: Needed for Iron utilization and enzymatic reactions in the body

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Lose the Biggest Loser

I have never been a fan of The Biggest Looser.  The last time I watched a full episode was my senior year of college.  But the other night I caught a few heart breaking minutes of it and hated each and every one.  This show creates unrealistic expectations and perpetuates the notion that to lose weight you have to kill yourself at the gym.  It's just not true, and most of the past contestants have gained a large portion of their weight back.  This year I challenge you to turn off the Biggest Loser and find an activity that you enjoy and use that to help you get healthy.

1. Guess what?! Without a personal trainer and 2-8 hours of extra time to spend working out every day, you're not going to lose 6-12 pounds on a continuous weekly basis.  Losing this much weight isn't even healthy for you.  It puts your body into shock, and just as quickly as you lost it, you're probably going to regain it.  Just like most of the Biggest Loser contestants from the past.  This year, instead of setting yourself up for failure, set yourself up for success.  Focus on small attainable goals.  If weight loss is what you want, celebrate a successful 0.5-2 pound weight loss for the week.  When people lose weight slowly, their bodies have time to adjust and they will be successful at continued weight loss and weight maintenance.

2. Don't Kill Yourself!  You don't have to puke, you don't have to pass out, you don't have to lie gasping on the floor with heart palpitations to know you have had a good workout.  And again, you don't have to, and SHOULDN'T workout for more than 45-60 minutes per day.  And you shouldn't go 110% every workout several days in a row.  Why?  For the best explanation head to Mark's Daily Apple to read up on chronic cardio and the dangers of burning more than 4000 kcals per week.  Unless you are a professional athlete, excess exercise will eventually leave you burned out.  Too high intensity of a workout day after day can lead to injuries and weight gain from high cortisol levels.  Exercise and physical activity need to be something you can stick with.

3. Do Something you enjoy.  If you hate going to the gym, go for a walk, bike ride, roller blade, swim.  Love the gym?  GET OFF THE ELLIPTICAL!  Learn to lift weights with proper form.  Weight lifting will help you build muscle which in turn burns more calories per pound than fat does.  Thus, you lose weight more effectively; something the perpetual motion machines cannot do.
Try a new class: Yoga, Zumba, Kickboxing, Spinning, Boot Camp with your puppy, Water Aerobics.  Whatever you think might be fun.  If you enjoy the activity, you will be more likely to stick with it.  You don't have to do it every day either.  Set a goal of exercising 3-5 days per week for 30 minutes.  That's it, that's attainable.  Besides, even with all the exercise Jillian does, she just seems mean and unhappy.  Who wants to be like that?

4. Quit finding, making, and creating excuses. It doesn't matter if you don't have access to a gym or community center.  Even in the frozen north you can still bundle up and go snowshoeing, skiing, or walk at the mall.  If you have kids, get them involved and go bowling or shoot hoops at their school. Have your spouse look after the kids while you workout to a DVD.  Walk around the soccer fields during your kids practice.  Try the free 1 week membership at the local yoga studio, you might like it.  The important part is that you move your body.  Maybe you won't lose weight, but you will feel better. When you exercise regularly it will help prevent heart disease, cancer, and even alzeyhemers.
Don't have gym... Climb a Tree

Try a new activity and discover muscles you had forgotten.
Go Snorkeling, Learn to Swim, Take a Scuba Class