Tag Archives: Health

Not settling

Hi everyone!

Times have been wild since I have last written. I have been working at the same primary care medical practice, went backpacking solo through Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru, completed a part time post-bachelors program, and have been experimenting with some other projects and goals. ;)

My two year anniversary at the practice is coming up soon, and I have been thinking a lot about what I have learned. My role has been something similar to a health coach, and I have worked with patients with a wide variety of conditions, goals, and personalities. These are people that are both just like you, and not at all, coming from every stage and experience of life.

I am fortunate to be able to get to know patients on a very personal level. I learn their stories, understand their environment, and listen to their struggles, triumphs and goals. This is one side of the equation of their reality. The other side is genetics and epigenetics (the nature in nature vs. nurture). All of these factors converge into a complex web that determines their health and disease state at the present moment.

You cannot know 95% of these things when you look at a person on the street or meet them at an event. It would be hard to know most of this stuff even if you had been known them for years, unless you have a medical background and ask a lot of personal questions… Being able to see how each side of a person, including their genetic and environmental history, lifestyle choices, motivators and challenges, interrelates with their medical pathophysiology has increased my compassion for others and understanding of the amount of power that people actually have to change.

It isn’t just medical conditions that have complex roots; it is every aspect of a person. Their personality, quirks, habits, and choices are all influenced by a multitude of factors. For example…

  • Mood disturbances and mental disorders are tied to neurotransmitter imbalances in the brain, which could be genetic, environmental, chemical, or even nutrition related (not adequate intake of necessary precursors)
  • People have varying levels of pain perception and stress tolerance due to stress exposure in utero
  • Overweight people may be more susceptible to overeating due to low dopamine or altered gut bacteria (ex: h. pylori in excess results in stomach ulcers, but a deficiency leads to a lack of leptin, which is responsible for satiety)
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity is influenced by the hormonal exposure in utero (and theoretically there are external factors that can alter this hormonal environment)
  • It is theorized that some mental issues, including chronic anxiety and poor self esteem, are related to lack of parental attachment in early life
  • Our diets play massive roles in our mood, energy level, sleep, immunity, health, weight, and daily choices. And our diets are massively influenced by our geography, early life experiences, parenting, and socioeconomic past and status.
  • Habitual drug or alcohol use can create a cycle involving neurotransmitters that makes it very difficult to break free of (but also- what spurred the first use? )

I think recognition of the influential unknowns also has huge implications for how we interpret and interact with others. With the understanding that each individual is the outcome of an extremely complex web of factors and events, we can have a bit more compassion for our fellow human beings . We are constantly being influenced and changing, and we can’t know what all of those factors are for ourselves (let alone others). More compassion from the acceptance of our ignorance and the complexity of nature v. nurture interactions, in combination with efforts to change what we aren’t content with, could bring about some seriously positive change in the world. Instead of judging other people (and ourselves!), we should try to be more accepting, while empowering others to make the changes they desire.

I have emphasized the complex roots of personalities and medical conditions in order to bring about compassion, not hopelessness. Most days, I hear someone somewhere saying that they have ‘always been’ a certain way. Whether it’s being overweight, anxious, depressed, or whatever, they appear resigned to this particular trait. It seems logical to me that the best way to change something is to get to the root of the problem, and so I have tried to trace back to the start of a certain problem, habit, or quality. Things quickly turn very murky, as there is not usually one answer.

What I have realized though, is that it does not matter.  There are countless elements that influence who we are that we cannot change. While you can’t change your early life development, genetics, or what others do to you, you can change what you do and how you think. After all, our bodies are made of the foods we eat, and our personas are made of  our actions, words, emotions and thoughts. We do not need to feel resigned to our condition. There are so many things (mental, physical, emotional, personality traits, habits, spiritual) that we can change and the tools are great and varying:

  • Sleep
  • Diet
  • Addressing medical conditions properly, proper medications
  • Probiotics (this can be complicated, different strains do many different things)
  • Supplements, herbs (with medical advising)
  • Therapy of all types
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
  • Meditation
  • Yoga, Tai Chi
  • Introspection, brain storming, goal setting and planning
  • Calendars and list making
  • Positive self talk, positive affirmations
  • Regular reminding self of values
  • Life coaches, health coaches, career coaches, advisors
  • Education, books, reading, studies

In summary, you are awesome. People are complicated with incredibly different life situations. Better to have compassion than pass judgement on others, and  focus on making the changes you wish to seek in yourself – because you can. I hope you all have an awesome Friday and weekend!

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me, the salt flats in Bolivia 

 

 

Aside

I read the awesome article Bariatric Medicine: Seven Exciting Developments” by Sean Bourke MD on a flight from NYC to San Francisco last weekend. I identified with it enough feel compelled to summarize my favorite points for you all. Dr. … Continue reading

‘duck liver mousse?’ ‘omg so much vitamin A!’

It is almost Wednesday and that means I get to go home to Texas for a week! I’ve been looking forward to seeing family, high school friends, and eating Tex-Mex and BBQ for months now.

Today, though, was wonderful as well. I started the day off with the usual coffee and greek yogurt bowl and then headed to Crunch to workout.

This workout killed my glutes. If you want to build a booty, do this workout 2x a week and get at least a gram of protein per pound of goal weight per day.

  • Barbell squats, 5 sets 0f 15, 95#
  • Barbell lunges, 5 sets of 15 per leg, 65#
  • 100 incline situps
  • Barbell thrusts (where you do a bridge with a barbell laying over your hips), 4 sets of 15, 115#

For lunch, I made a quick, easy and paleo…

bacon butternut squash soup

IMG_1731

Recipe: serves 1

  • 2 cups roasted butternut squash
  • 1/2 tbsp grass fed butter
  • 1 slice bacon, crispy
  • 1/2 cup chicken or veggie broth (or more if desired)
  • 1 tbsp yellow onion
  • 1 tsp garlic, crushed
  • shake of salt
  • shake of freshly ground pepper
  • optional: for protein, once the soup is prepared, feel free to throw in grass fed beef, chicken, turkey, or even eggs!
  • optional: 1-2 tbsp almond or peanut butter to top (I loved the soup with almond butter)

Directions – Combine the squash, butter, bacon, broth, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. Heat and add your protein and/or nut butter topping and enjoy!

After lunch, two my my closest friends from UC Davis came to visit and we went for a walk along the coast.

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nutrition biochemistry nerdz 4 lyfe.

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golden gate bridge

Afterwards, we went to State Bird Provisions for dinner. It is New American fusion served dim sum style, so you order lots of smaller plates. Very cool! I didn’t take any photos of dinner, but it was insanely delicious. We got

  • almond biscuits with duck liver mousse
  • hamachi spring rolls with persimmon
  • garlic bread with burrata
  • seafood salsa with avocado cream
  • glazed pork ribs with chard and togarashi (my fave!)
  • red trout with hazel and mandarin brown butter

Gah, I am salivating just rehashing the details. I should go pack. Have a wonderful  Wednesday!

Aside

My blog is typically me putting my best face forward. I avoid complaining and revealing my negative emotions. Not because I want to fool anyone into thinking I am always happy and perfect, but because writing positive posts makes me … Continue reading

[grain-free] cinnamon sweet potato waffles

Happy Independence Day everyone! Let’s take at least a minute to be appreciative of the fact that we live in a non-occupied territory and do not have to suffer the pain and inconveniences that come with such a life condition.

Ho’kay, for today’s

I have a special new recipe to debut. Please welcome Paleo Waffle 2.0 to the stage.

These are grain free, dairy free, sugar free and paleo-approved. I was trying to come up with a paleo waffle that used only sweet potato and eggs and no coconut flour, but I couldn’t make it work. The coconut flour is key to making them hold their shape and be waffle-like. However, this waffle has less coconut flour than my original version (and seems to digest easier) and a delicious sweet potato flavor.

For breakfast I have been having 1 sweet potato waffle and one banana paleo waffle topped with ~2 tablespoons of nut butter and 2 egg whites on the side.

I will never get sick of waffles. Did you know I’m a quarter Belgian?

Cinnamon Spiced Sweet Potato Waffles [gluten free]

Recipe: Makes ~7 waffles

  • Sorry this has been removed until further notice!

Josef’s sugar free maple syrup (don’t hate! malitol is one of the less craptastic sweeteners) and shredded coconut

Nutrition Facts for 1 Waffle

  • 120 calories
  • 9 grams protein (more if you sub protein powder)
  • 15 grams carbs
  • 4 grams fiber
  • 4 grams sugar

poor coco shreds, I bet it’s hard to swim in almond butter and syrup. 

Yesterday’s lunch consisted of pastrami lettuce wraps.

Simply take a few Romaine leaves and place a slice of nitrate-free pastrami, gourmet mustard, avocado, cherry tomatoes, and salt on each and eat like taco!

The second course of lunch was pink lady apple slices topped with pate.

Pate = duck liver. It is delicious. Please don’t stop reading my blog. 

Dinner was colorful and satisfying.

Leftover roasted chicken, a slice of bacon, salted avocado, sweet potato fries, and salad with honey mustard bacon grease dressing.

As is apparent, I am still pretty paleo, but this is just how I eat nowadays. I’m back on the dairy hard as ever. My first sip of creamy coffee after my week of strict paleo felt like liquid happiness was seeping into my system and coursing through my veins. In true relapse fashion, I’ve been eating yogurt and ice cream like its my job.

Best way to break up with paleo =

first thing I bought after paleo week was pastured butter, half and half, and gelato

Speaking of jobs, I have exciting news! But I will save that for the next post. :) Along with this lil’ gem…

The Paleo Diet.

What is paleo?

The Paleolithic diet is not a “diet” in the count-every-calorie-I-hate-my-life sense. It is a lifestyle that encourages us to eat and live the way that our ancestors did for hundreds of thousands of years. The first homo sapiens appeared on earth 200,000 years ago. They hunted and gathered, slept, made shelter, and occasionally ran for their lives. They were strong and healthy and didn’t suffer from the diseases that we do now. The agricultural revolution changed the way we modern homo sapiens eat 10,000 years ago. Meaning, we have only been eating wheat and other grains and domesticated animal products for 10,000 years out of our 200,000 year existence. The paleo diet is the avoidance of all grains (even whole grains), refined sugar, legumes, and dairy products. It is eating vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, nuts, and fruit. The paleo lifestyle is to exercise the way we used to: lots of movement, like walking, some heavy lifting, and some sprinting. Our ancestors did not read magazines for two hours on the elliptical or run marathons.

What to eat

Fruit and veg: Go crazy for veggies. Make them the base of your diet and you can’t go wrong. For people trying to lose weight, reduce fruit and starchy vegetables like potatoes, beets, winter squash, and root veggies. For maintaining weight, gaining weight, and sustaining heavy exercise, use starchy vegetables and fruit as your carbohydrate source.

Nuts and oils: Any nut is fair game except for peanuts, which are technically legumes. Monounsaturated fat is good for us, while polyunsaturated fat is more complicated. Polyunsaturated fat is divided between omega 3s and omega 6s. While we do need omega 6s, the ratio of omega 3 to 6 should be 1:1. Modern diets are 1:10, which increases our risk of heart disease. We should emphasize omega 3s and reduce omega 6s. 

  • Monounsaturated oils include: nuts, avocados, olives and olive oil, fish, cod liver oil, grass fed meats, and plants (which obviously don’t have that much fat)
  • Polyunsaturated omega 6 sources include: corn, soy, cottonseed, grapeseed, sunflower, safflower and other vegetable oils, and grains
  • Polyunsaturated omega 3 sources include: salmon, sardines, fish, walnuts, flax, hemp, nuts, grass fed meat, pasture raised chicken & eggs

Meat: meat should ideally be grass fed and organic. Grass fed meat is naturally leaner and contains increased levels of omega 3 fats and decreased levels of omega 6 fats compared to grain fed animals. This is good because omega 3s are anti-inflammatory where as omega 6 fats are pro-inflammatory (bad!). Post-agricultural revolution, cattle began being grain-fed because it is cheaper and they get fatter. If you can’t afford grass fed meat, go for the leanest cuts of conventional meat and supplement with other forms of healthy fat, like avocados, nuts, olive oil and coconut oil. Avoid vegetable oils, as they are high in omega 6.

Poultry and fish: Poultry and eggs should ideally be free-range and not fed a “vegetarian” diet, which really just means corn and soy. Again, this is so that the fat content of the meat and eggs is higher in the fats that reduce CVD. Fish should ideally be wild caught because farm-raised fish are fed (surprise!) corn and grain feed. Remember, the reason that corn and grain fed animals and fish are less healthy than their naturally grazing counterparts is their fat content. Naturally grazing species will have a more anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats and less inflammatory (and thus CVD inducing) omega 6 fats.

About red meat and saturated fat

Paleo or no paleo, the consumption of red meat believed by many to be unhealthy. This is based on studies that link high consumption of red meat to cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer, and it is usually explained as the increased level of saturated fat in the diet. This is not the whole story. The studies that claim this are flawed in their methods and/or reporting. They are usually population studies that take large groups of people and have them fill out food frequency questionaires (which are sketchy in their own right since they are based on memory and estimation). The results look at the frequency of cancer and CVD in the population tested. Those who ate more red meat had higher rates of cancer and CVD. What the study doesn’t mention, is that these people were also more likely to smoke, be overweight, obese, diabetic, inactive, or combinations of all of these characteristics.

In this cross over study (which is the most trustworthy type of study), two groups were divided among heavy red meat consumption versus fish and chicken consumption. The red meat group ate far more cholesterol and saturated fat, however, their HDL and cholesterol levels were the same as the fish and chicken group. Interestingly, in women only, red meat actually lowered blood triacylglycerol (=fat, TAG)  levels and the fish and chicken increased the blood TAG levels. This is important because blood TAG levels are now thought to be more indicative of heart disease risk. Another interesting thing about this study was the carb intake, which usually regulates serum TAGs, was similar in both groups. This suggests that red meat has a TAG-lowering effect independent from simply replacing carbs from the diet with protein.  Also worth noting is that the red meat group ate ~200 calories more than the chicken and fish group per day, but did not gain any weight. This is a great blog post that summarizes more studies on this topic.

Two other interesting studies were analyses of other studies. Looking at all the studies that met their standards and criteria, they determined factors that increase and decrease risk of heart disease.

  • Increased risk factors: trans fats and high glycemic loads (AKA sugar, simple carbohydrates, and excessive carbs REGARDLESS of carb type).
  • Decreased risk factors: fiber, fish, beta carotene, omega 3s, fruit, veg, nuts, monounsaturated fats, vitamins C and E, Meditteranean style eating, and whole grains. [I will get to grains a bit later.]

They noted the lack of evidence supporting the notion that reducing saturated fat intake will lower the risk of CVD. Furthermore, according to this study, there is no study yet that reduces saturated fat intake with no other changes to the diet. Meaning, if reductions in CVD were seen with reduced saturated fat intake, it could be due to the other changes made in the study, like reduced carb intake, increased omega 3 intake, etc. Also, note that polyunsaturated fats were not part of the decreased risk factor list, which is what we have increased in out diets by feeding our animals and ourselves lots of corn and vegetable oils.

Main point: Current research seems to indicate that it is not saturated fat that is responsible for our current state of heart disease, but rather the increased ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fats in our diet. This doesn’t mean you can drown yourself in french fries and steaks. It means that grass-fed meats or extra lean conventional meats do have a healthy place in our diet, along with fish, healthy oils, nuts, and plants.

About grains and legumes

Grains and legumes (beans + peanuts) are out because they contain lectins and anti-nutrients. Wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) is one type of lectin, which is a molecule that can bind to other molecules in our body. Lectins are not broken down during digestion and can bind to receptors on the gut lining. This binding can lead to decreased digestion and absorption of other dietary proteins as well as transportation of the lectins through the gut and into the blood circulation. While they are transported, lectins can damage (in rough terms: “poke holes”) in our intestinal lining. These circulating lectins are then recognized by our immune systems as foreign invaders, and we will launch an immune response against them. Unfortunately, lectins can often resemble normal cells in our body, so these immune responses can essentially become immune attacks on our own tissues. Read: inflammation and auto-immune diseases. Because there is now perforations in the gut lining, other microscopic proteins from our diet can cross the lining, and immune responses can be raised against those proteins as well. Read: food allergies.

The strongest evidence against grains is definitely for those whom have autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, celiac, lupus,  Sjogrens, MS, T1 diabetes, and ulcerative colitis. This, this, this, and many more studies indicate that dietary gluten and grains do negatively impact those with decreased immune systems. However, not everyone has an overt immune disease. Like most things in this world, we are on a sliding scale. This study showed that those with celiac disease and people with increased genetic susceptibility to autoimmune disease had increased gut permeability when consuming a diet high in gluten. And as for completely healthy individuals with great immune systems? There is hardly any research. This study, ironically done by a student under the original Paleo-pusher, Dr. Cordaine, showed that healthy individuals did not see an increase in plasma levels of lectins after consuming 50 grams of gluten (although several explanations were offered for these results). However, this study did show that peanut lectins made their way through the intestinal lining and into circulation. This study showed the same with wheat germ agglutinin, but it was done on rats. This study showed that anti-bodies to WGA can be found in human circulation.  Also, this research article is all about using lectins as a way to get pharmaceutical drugs absorbed more efficiently through the intestines, and cites studies that were done on human tissue. Therefore, it does appear likely that lectins are able to enter circulation and possibly cause damage. 

Main point: Anyone with imperfect immune function (which you wouldn’t necessarily know if you were included in that group), and possibly everyone, can benefit from removing grains and legumes from their diet due to their lectin content. Even completely healthy individuals may benefit from lectin avoidance because lectins may at the very least be causing a constant low-grade inflammation in the body. Just try it for a few weeks and see how you feel. 

The anti-nutrients in grains that I mentioned are protease inhibitors and phytates. Protease inhibitors are molecules that inhibit our enzymes from breaking down some of our dietary protein and lectins (which are proteins). I think that this is a bit exaggerated in The Paleo Solution because it is not as if your burger isnt going to get digested just because you ate it with a bun. That would require a LOT of protease inhibitors. Phytates are found in grains and seeds and can bind to important minerals, like magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, and copper. Thus, when you eat phytates (which are mostly in the bran of the grains) they bind to those nutrients so that you cannot absorb them. While this is bad, I think it is also slightly exaggerated. Phytates will bind those nutrients, but not all of them! Then again, the typical American diet is grain heavy and lacking in fruits and veg, so I guess it could actually make quite a difference in a person’s nutritional status!

About dairy

The case against dairy seems to be mostly based its effect of raising insulin levels. Insulin increases fat storage, and chronically elevated insulin levels can lead to insulin resistance. Clearly, for diabetics and people whom are overweight, this is  bad. I also read that some studies correlate milk intake with auto-immune diseases. However, I am happy to report that some people actually can consume dairy given that they do not have any auto-immune issues, have a healthy gut and weight, and are not lactose intolerant. While strict paleo does say no dairy, even the some of the most hardcore paleo-pushers admit that grass fed, whole fat, organic dairy has its benefits. If it is grass fed and organic, it won’t contain any harmful pesticides or hormones, and will have a healthy fat profile. Additionally, if the dairy is raw, than the naturally occurring enzymes will help with the digestion and absorption processes. Proper dairy can be a great source of calories, protein, fat, calcium, and probiotics, however it can be difficult (or impossible) to get your hands on.

Main point: Try giving up dairy products for a couple weeks, see how you feel, and then re-introduce it. If you feel bloated and ill…. well now you know. If not, stick with grass fed, organic, whole milk dairy products. Those with auto-immune disorders or genetic susceptibility would also likely do well to avoid dairy.

About fiber

When I first heard about how paleo excludes grains, even my beloved whole grains, I was disturbed. Almost mad! Here I was, with a blog all about eating healthfully and including whole grains into our diet, and this community was telling me that that was bad. I fought it. Whole grains have so many nutrients, like B vitamins and minerals! Whole grains have so much fiber! From my studies, I knew that the human body needs two kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble.

Soluble fiber absorbs water, and thus slows digestion and makes us feel fuller, longer. It also helps feces transit.

Insoluble fiber is not digested by the body and adds bulk to the stool. This is important for maintaining bathroom regularity, which may be helpful with preventing colon cancer. Insoluble fiber is also a key source of food for gut flora (bacteria), which give us all sorts of immune and digestion benefits.

My first instinct was that without whole grains, I would only be getting soluble fiber from fruits and veggies. I feared that without my precious whole grain insoluble fiber sources, I would become a constipated, and thus grumpy, beezy. Turns out one can get both kinds of fiber very easily from a paleo diet.

  • Soluble fiber is found in: fruits like apples, oranges, pears, and berries. Veggies like cucumbers, celery, and carrots. And nuts and seeds like flax, almonds, and psyllium.
  • Insoluble fiber is found in: corn, seeds, nuts, zucchini, celery, broc, cabbage, root veggie skins, dark leafy veggies, onions, grapes, and other fruits.

Other considerations

While I have now made the agricultural revolution sound like the most terrible thing to ever have occurred, I must remind myself and others that it was this revolution that enabled us to feed more people and expand our population. In some ways, this is beautiful. More people, more innovation, peace, love, happiness. On the other hand, we have more people, but they are also fatter and sicker than ever before. So while the agriculture revolution certainly made food cheaper, it has also increased our medical care costs.

Another thing to think about is the environmental-friendliness of the paleo diet. Obviously, a lot of meat and animal products are consumed. While ideally the animals should be sustainably raised and grass fed, this sadly makes up only a tiny portion of our current agricultural system. Furthermore, it has been said that vegetarian diets are far more environmentally friendly than traditional diets. I have hardly done any reading on this, but it is something I have heard over and over again. I think the most important thing to keep in mind at the grocery store (or better yet, farmer’s market!) is that every dollar you spend on food is a vote. Hopefully with enough votes towards healthy, sustainable food items, they will become more affordable and we will slowly transition to a better agricultural system.

I encourage everyone to join me in giving full-on Paleo a shot for a few weeks!


Spicy chipotle pumpkin soup!

Gooood morning. Rather than pick one thing to talk about in this post, I feel like talking about some current events in bullet points…
  1. This morning I read a really interesting article from Al Jazeera about how American biotechnology corporations (basically Monsanto) are literally taking over the crop production around the world by enforcing farmers to use their GMO seeds instead of their own genetically diverse seeds. The expensive seed has put farmers in debt and led to over 250,000 suicides in India. Get the deets here
  2. Presidential elections often sneak up on me and I feel under educated in the stances of the candidates. I spent a bit of time this morning gettin’ down and dirty with Mitt Romney’s plans for America – seeing as he is the current front runner for the Republican party. There is one particular segment in his foreign policy plan that is quite scary. It implies a severe decrease in American rights to privacy under the guise of a “counterterrorism strategy.” It kinda sounds like SOPA and PIPA on crack… squared.  I don’t want to delve too deeply into my opinions, so you can make up your own mind on the foreign policy here. And the job plan here. And the ‘health care’ here
  3. Yesterday, my three house mates came to the university gym with me and let me teach them how to squat with the squat rack! It was awesome. They all picked it up incredibly quickly and were super badass. The key form points I tried to stress were: STICK YOUR BUTT OUT so you look reminiscent of a duck, feet shoulder width apart and toes forward, push through your heels, and support the bar completely with your upper-back, not your hands or arms. It was nice to not be 1 of 2 girls on the “man side” of the gym!
  4. Due to my nasty schedule, I haven’t had as much time to exercise as usual. If I cut anything out, it is cardio. By having two days off of any exercise a few times in the last couple weeks, I have noticed how much more I can lift and do when I do get to the gym. My squat weight has increased by 10 lbs! Definitely becoming more of a fan of rest days.
Onto the recipe! I had some leftover chiles in adobo sauce from that last amazing recipe and I wanted to make some kind of soup with it. I had a can of pumpkin leftover from my pumpkin craze and thought the creaminess of the pumpkin would go nicely with the spicy chiles. The soup ended up being so good that I finished the entire batch in one sitting. I don’t recommend doing that though – I was painfully full for several hours…

spicy chipotle pumpkin soup 

Recipe: Serves 1-2

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced (add additional pepper cautiously, it gets spicy fast!)
  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp half & half
  • salt, to taste
  • greek yogurt, to garnish (sour cream could be good too)
  • fresh cilantro, to garnish

Directions – In a large sauce pan, saute the onions and garlic on the stove top with the butter, until caramelized. Add the spices and minced chile pepper and stir. Scrape the canned pumpkin into the pan and stir. Add the chicken stock and stir until smooth. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the desired consistency has been reached. Add the half and half. Serve with a large dollop greek yogurt and fresh cilantro!

Benefits:

Chile peppers * a source of vitamin A and many potent antioxidants. They have anti-inflammatory properties due to their capsaicin content. Capsaicin also has a metabolism elevating effect.

Pumpkin * An impressive source of vitamins A and C and iron, manganese, and riboflavin! Also is high in fiber and low in fat.

I finally made a dinner recipe!

Props to me – I finally made a real dinner recipe. I blame procrastination. I have been studying for my Endocrinology midterm like a psychopath and have been desperately finding things to do to avoid starting my lab report. Sooo, I went to Trader Joes and picked up a few essentials and some cool new lemon pasta. And its not whole wheat. [Im actually proud of this.... reduction in whole wheat snobbery.] It inspired to me to make this dinner, which took about twenty minutes and was fabulously tastayyy.

Part of why I avoid dinner recipes is because the pictures turn out terrible. No natural light. :(

Chicken and Broccoli in a Lemon, Garlic Cream Sauce

Recipe: Serves 1

1 raw chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces

1 1/2 cups raw broccoli florets

2 ounces (or 3/4 cup cooked) lemon pasta

For the cream sauce:

1/3 cup half half

3-4 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp garlic paste or 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 tbsp honey

dash lemon pepper

dash salt

Directions – Add the lemon juice and garlic to a pan on the stove on medium heat (mine was at 4.5). Add the chicken and broccoli florets. Once the chicken is half way cooked, reduce the heat a bit (mine was just below “4”) and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir. Let everything cook until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Don’t be alarmed if the half and half curdles. Once it thickens, it will look fine and taste delicious. A few minutes before the sauce looks done, boil the noodles until tender. Drain. Add the noodles to the chicken and cream sauce. Toss. Enjoy!

A creamy, savory garlic sauce with a punch of lemon and a tiny hint of sweetness. 

Benefits:

Garlic * packed with antioxidants that fight aging, cancer, and heart disease! Garlic can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and eliminate free radicals (which cause cellular damage). It is also used to treat asthma and yeast infections.

Lemon * a great source of vitamin C. Lemons are also said to help balance the bodies PH and put it into a more alkaline state.

Chicken * A lean source of protein, B vitamins, and the calming amino acid tryptophan!

Caramelized sweet potato ice cream with toasted marshmallow swirl

I have been on a ridiculous ice cream kick lately. I literally just can’t get enough – I like to think that all the calcium is seeping into my bones and I am now indestructible. To put it metaphorically, ice cream is to me what creatine is to high school football players. Only any weight it may incur ain’t water ;)

To get my fixes, I have been frequenting Davis Creamery. Last time I went in, the semi-stoned, smocked dude smirked and said “Maybe we should just make you a frequent flyer card.”

You do that. Seriously. I was shocked and beyond ecstatic to find that they had a new flavor – sweet potato and marshmallow. I giddily asked for a sample, shoved the wooden stick into my mouth, and then…. my heart sank. It sucked. The sweet potato flavor was lack luster and the marshmallows were raw and there was a lack of depth of flavor in general. I knew I could make it better.

To bring out the best in the sweet potato, the key is to caramelize it first in the oven. Do not disrespect the potato by boiling it. Plus, you wont lose any water soluble nutrients!

And toast the marshmallows, obvs.

caramelized sweet potato ice cream with toasted marshmallow swirl

Recipe: Makes ~2  1-cup servings

1 cup caramelized sweet potato

1 cup organic whole milk, vanilla yogurt (I used Strauss)

6 large marshmallows

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 capfuls vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp cinnamon

optional: mini marshmallows for topping, scoop of marshmallow fluff, brown sugar and/or stevia to taste

Directions – Place the metal container of the ice cream maker in the freezer; let it freeze overnight. Bake a sweet potato at 400 degrees until the sugars begin to seep out, about an hour. Refrigerate overnight.The next day, broil the marshmallows on a pan in the oven until browned. Let them cool completely (they will deflate).  Combine the sweet potato with the yogurt, sugar, spices and salt and mix well. Turn on the ice cream maker and pour in the mixture once it is ALREADY SPINNING. It will take about 20 minutes to harden. Midway through, give it a taste test to see if it is sweet to your liking. Just a minute or two before you want to serve the ice cream, add the marshmallows and let them get combined by the ice cream maker. For an additional marshmallow swirl, you can turn off the ice cream maker and use a fork to swirl in marshmallow fluff. Top with toated mini marshmallows and enjoy!

Can be stored tightly sealed in the freezer.

Perrfect. 

What surprised me about this recipe was that although I used whole milk yogurt, it had a similar calorie content  to non-fat frozen yogurt. I realized that the fro-yo has way more sugar in place of the fat. And health wise, fat is >>>> sugar. Plus, the fat gives it an amazing creamy texture that froyo just don’t got.

Benefits:

Sweet potato * high in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, copper, and B6! The antioxidants in sweet potatoes work to eliminate free radicals (which damage the body) and are anti-inflammatory, so they can help alleviate symptoms of many conditions.

Whole yogurt * loaded with calcium, a bit of protein, and beneficial bacteria that aid in digestion of the lactose and help promote regularity! Plus, the fats in milk products are short chain, which tend to be immediately utilized by the body for energy rather than fat storage.

Perfect Paleo Pancakes

 

This morning, I was not in the mood for any of my typical breakfasts. Eggs and toast - bleh, savory oatmeal -  too hot, a protein smoothie – not filling enough, a greek yogurt bowl - lame… I wanted something new and exciting! But still satisfying, delicious, and healthy.

I peered in the fridge. No inspiration. I opened up the freezer, dug around, and saw my abandoned almond flour. I had tried to pancakes with it before, but they were too eggy and covered in second degree burns. It was time to try it again.

Perfect paleo pancakes with caramelized banana compote – for one!

for just the right kind of full

These pancakes came out perfectly! They are fluffy and lightly sweet with a hint of vanilla. They are very low carb, high protein & fat, paleo, and sugar & dairy free! I had a scrambled egg + an egg white on the side as well :)

Recipe: Serves 1

1/3 cup almond flour

1/4 tsp baking soda

2 tsp almond milk

1 egg

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

~6 drops liquid NuNaturals stevia (or to taste)

dash cinnamon

dash salt

For the compote- 

1 ripe banana

tsp coconut oil

tbsp real or sugar free maple syrup + plus extra for drizzling

Directions –  Place a pan on the stove with 1 tsp of coconut oil. In a bowl, mash a banana with some maple syrup and spoon into the pan. Cook on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the banana is caramelized.

Meanwhile, combine all of the pancake ingredients in a bowl (I recommend in that order) and mix well. Place a non stick pan on the stove on medium heat (mine was on 3.5 out of 8). Pour 1/3 of the batter into the pan. Let the bubbles rise to the top. Once the bubbles start to disappear, flip the pancake with a spatula. It should be light brown on the other side. Let cook for an additional minute or two. Remove pancake and place onto a heating plate and repeat with the rest of the batter. Plate the pancakes and top with the caramelized banana and additional maple syrup.

Benefits:

Almond flour * by subbing almond flour for regular flour, you are getting more healthy fats and less carbs in your cookies. These are monounsaturated fats, which raise HDL (good cholesterol) levels and lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels! Almonds also have fiber, manganese, vitamin E (another antioxidant), tryptophan, copper, B2 and phosphorous!

Banana * A good source of fiber and potassium.

Eggs * the yolk is where all the nutrients are! It contains tryptophan, selenium, iodine, B vitamins, and phosphorous, many of which are necessary for optimal metabolism. The egg white has 6 grams of complete protein!

Coconut oil * coconut gets a bad rap because of its saturated fat content, but its fatty acids are mainly medium-chain triglycerides, not long-chain. The long-chain triglycerides are bad for our cholesterol levels, but coconut has been shown to improve cholesterol levels. Animal studies suggest that medium-chain triglycerides can increase metabolism. It is great to cook with because it is stable at high temperatures!

almond flour pancakes with caramelized banana and maple drizzle

Make these!