Clean Up Your Kitchen

It’s a new year so let’s start off on a new foot. Clean up your kitchen! Having a clean kitchen with healthy groceries and organic spices will help you to achieve your goals for 2016!

clean-up-kitchen

We’ve created a checklist for each day this week to follow:

Monday – Condiments: Many hidden ingredients are in condiments making them unhealthy. When people use condiments they tend to not weigh and just pour or squeeze onto their food. Check out the labels on your condiments – if you can’t read what’s on the label pitch it!

Tuesday – Spices: Spices add yummy flavors to otherwise boring dishes but if you’re using spices that are high in sodium they won’t be good for your health. Instead of spices try using fresh ingredients i.e. use fresh basil or parsley.

Wednesday – Fridge: Have those holiday leftovers still sittin’ in the fridge? Time to pitch! It’s a new year to start out on a new foot. Any juices or alcohols that made it into the fridge, pitch. Any pasta meals or potatoes that came in, pitch. Any desserts still left lingering in the back, pitch. You don’t want or need to temptation.

Thursday – Freezer: Is it sometimes just easier to throw in a frozen meal in the microwave than having to cook? We know, we get it. But you may not realize that those meals are a pile of salt. Those “Smart Ones” aren’t healthy and they have almost no nutritional value. Pitch them!

Are we starting to sound like a broken record? We have one more day left. Can you guess what we’re pitching on Friday?

Friday – Pantry: While the kids were off of school the house may have filled up with cereals, mac & cheese, and chips! Time to …what’s that? Oh yes, pitch them! Stick with fresh foods for snacks and meals. Instead of cereal try eggs and sausage, instead of chips try carrot sticks, don’t cook mac & cheese cook spaghetti squash!

9 Health Benefits of Fiber

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There’s no shortage of research showing how fiber may boost your health. Some of its top potential benefits include:

– Blood sugar control: Soluble fiber may help to slow your body’s breakdown of carbohydrates and the absorption of sugar, helping with blood sugar control.
– Heart health: An inverse association has been found between fiber intake and heart attack, and research shows that those eating a high-fiber diet have a 40 percent lower risk of heart disease
– Stroke: Researchers have found that for every seven-grams more fiber you consume on a daily basis, your stroke risk is decreased by 7 percent
– Weight loss and management: Fiber supplements have been shown to enhance weight loss among obese people,3 likely because fiber increases feelings of fullness.
– Skin health: Fiber, particularly psyllium husk, may help move yeast and fungus out of your body, preventing them from being excreted through your skin where they could trigger acne or rashes.
– Diverticulitis: Dietary fiber (especially insoluble) may reduce your risk of diverticulitis – an inflammation of polyps in your intestine – by 40 percent.
– Hemorrhoids: A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of hemorrhoids.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Fiber may provide some relief from IBS.
– Gallstones and kidney stones: A high-fiber diet may reduce the risk of gallstones and kidney stones, likely because of its ability to help regulate blood sugar.

For more information visit: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/11/25/9-fiber-health-benefits.aspx

Fiber Fast Facts

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How fiber can help with weight loss? First and foremost, fiber helps you feel full without consuming a lot of unwanted calories. High fiber foods tend to be low in fat, too, helping to keep your weight in check.
There are two types of fiber; soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water. Insoluble fiber does not. To some degree these differences determine how each fiber functions in the body and benefits your health. Soluble fibers attract water and form a gel, which slows down digestion. Soluble fiber delays the emptying of your stomach and makes you feel full, which helps control weight. Slower stomach emptying may also affect blood sugar levels and have a beneficial effect on insulin sensitivity, which may help control diabetes. Soluble fibers can also help lower LDL (“bad”) blood cholesterol by interfering with the absorption of dietary cholesterol. Good sources of soluble fiber are oats, oat bran, oatmeal, apples, citrus fruits, strawberries, dried beans, barley, rye flour, potatoes, raw cabbage, and pasta.

How fiber can help with digestive issues? We often make jokes about digestion and too much or too little fiber. The funny thing is, your fiber intake does have a direct impact on digestive health. Insoluble fibers are considered gut-healthy fiber because they have a laxative effect and add bulk to the diet, helping prevent constipation. These fibers do not dissolve in water, so they pass through the gastrointestinal tract relatively intact, and speed up the passage of food and waste through your gut. It is the type of fiber most strongly linked to cancer protection. Good sources of insoluble fiber are wheat bran, whole wheat products, cereals made from bran or shredded wheat, crunchy vegetables, barley, grains, whole wheat pasta, and rye flour.

It is best to choose fiber-rich foods over fiber supplements in order to get the full range of cancer-fighting phytochemicals (“phyto” means plant so phytochemicals are simply plant-compounds) that fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains contain.

What are some foods that are high in fiber? Answers: fruits (apples, pears, raspberries, avocado), veggies (kale, peas, squash, sweet potatoes, carrots), beans, flax and chia seeds, quinoa, oats, almonds. (note: foods listed are examples of the highest fiber rich foods in each category).

Are high fiber breads, bars, and cereals a good way to get more fiber? Not necessarily, because most of these food are highly processed and contain added sugars and/or hydrogenated oils. Calorie for calorie a whole food like an avocado has more fiber per calorie than a piece of bread. Not only that, but an avocado has numerous other nutritiously redeeming qualities that breads and cereals do not. Think about it this way…most breads and cereals are fortified with added nutrition, they are fortified because on their own, they are not nutritionally balanced.

What are some sneaky ways to incorporate more fiber into your diet? Add chia or ground flax seeds to your smoothie or oatmeal, top your eggs with 1⁄2 an avocado, add lentils to your salad, add psyllium husk to baked goods

Gain Control of Emotional Eating

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When negative emotions threaten to trigger emotional eating, you can take steps to control cravings. To help stop emotional eating, try these tips:

1. Keep a food diary. Write down what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat, how you’re feeling when you eat and how hungry you are. Over time, you might see patterns that reveal the connection between mood and food.
2. Tame your stress. If stress contributes to your emotional eating, try a stress management technique, such as yoga, meditation or deep breathing.
Have a hunger reality check. Is your hunger physical or emotional? If you ate just a few hours ago and don’t have a rumbling stomach, you’re probably not hungry. Give the craving a time to pass.
3. Get support. You’re more likely to give in to emotional eating if you lack a good support network. Lean on family and friends or consider joining a support group.
4. Fight boredom. Instead of snacking when you’re not hungry, distract yourself and substitute a healthier behavior. Take a walk, watch a movie, play with your cat, listen to music, read, surf the Internet or call a friend.
5. Take away temptation. Don’t keep hard-to-resist comfort foods in your home. And if you feel angry or blue, postpone your trip to the grocery store until you have your emotions in check.
6. Don’t deprive yourself. When trying to lose weight, you might limit calories too much, eat the same foods repeatedly and banish treats. This may just serve to increase your food cravings, especially in response to emotions. Eat satisfying amounts of healthier foods, enjoy an occasional treat, and get plenty of variety to help curb cravings.
7. Snack healthy. If you feel the urge to eat between meals, choose a low-fat, low-calorie snack, such as fresh fruit, vegetables with low-fat dip or unbuttered popcorn. Or try low-fat, lower calorie versions of your favorite foods to see if they satisfy your craving.
8. Learn from setbacks. If you have an episode of emotional eating, forgive yourself and start fresh the next day. Try to learn from the experience and make a plan for how you can prevent it in the future. Focus on the positive changes you’re making in your eating habits and give yourself credit for making changes that’ll lead to better health.

For more information visit: mayoclinic.org

Natural Supplements for Mental Health

Folic Acid – a B vitamin found in green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, beans, and fortified breads and cereals

  • Helps with Depression – When combined with an antidepressant, folic acid supplements can boost symptom relief-espcially in women

SAMe – is a substance made naturally in the body that boosts production of several neurotransmitters—chemical messengers in the brain—involved in regulation of mood

  • Helps with Depression – works as well as older tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). As an add-on treatment, it can boost the effectiveness of a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) or a selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI)

Ginkgo Biloba – herbal supplement is derived from leaves of the ginkgo tree

  • Helps with Alzheiner’s disease and antidepressant-related sexual problems – Taken alone, ginkgo biloba is modestly effective at slowing cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer’s disease

Valerian – herb is derived from the root of a pink flower, Valeriana officinalis

  • Helps with anxiety and sleep problems – Valerian may be an option for older adults, as it does not cause as many memory and thinking problems as benzodiazepines (sedative medications) do.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid – naturally occurring fatty acids are most abundant in cold-water fish such as salmon, sardines, and anchovies

  • Helps with bipolar depression and major depression – Omega-3 supplements may boost the effectiveness of antidepressants. These supplements may provide a stand-alone treatment option for people concerned about side effects of antidepressants, such as older adults, people with multiple medical conditions, and women who are pregnant or breast-feeding.

St. John’s Wort – herbal supplement is produced from an extract of the plant Hypericum perforatum

  • Helps with Depression – St. John’s wort may help people with mild or moderate symptoms of depression

Melatonin – naturally occurring substance regulates circadian rhythms in the body, such as the sleep/wake cycle

  • Helps with sleep problems – Melatonin improves sleep quality in people with schizophrenia, major depression, and seasonal affective disorder

 

For more information visit: help guide.org

 

4 Key Factors to Balancing Your Hormones

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1. Exercise:  Vigorous exercise works to increase the levels of endorphins, the “feel good” hormones, in your brain.  Think of it as the fight or flight instinct; when we push ourselves physically we can either fight through the discomfort and finish strong – thus releasing endorphins.  Or, we can flight, give up and stop – releasing zero endorphins and leaving us feeling bad.

In one study of adults 20-45 years old who were diagnosed with mild to moderate depression, researchers looked at exercise alone to treat the condition and found:

  • Depressive symptoms were cut almost in half in those who completed a 30 minutes aerobic exercise, 3-5 times per week after 12 weeks.

2. Address your stress:  We often hear about the benefits of reducing stress, yet we all seem to still be stressed.  This is something that we all can work on every day.  Managing stress can go a long way in helping us feel in control thus reducing feelings of anxiety and depression.

Simple every day ways to manage stress

  • Plan your day – this can be done at the end of the previous day or first thing in the morning.  Plan your schedule, be sure to know your travel times to and from appointments, make your lunch and breakfast ahead of time.  Plan and prep for dinner the night before.  Your day will go smoother and you will feel in control and relaxed.
  • Make a list – research shows that it is almost impossible to accomplish more than 5-7 items per day.  If you have more than 7 to-do’s, move some to the following day.  Be realistic about what you can accomplish and how long it will take.
  • Delegate when you can – why is this so hard?  None of us are super human, take a bite of humble pie and ask for a hand when you need it.

3. Eat a healthy diet: Foods have an immense impact on our mood and ability to cope and be happy, and eating whole foods will best support your mental health.  Incorporating the following foods will enhance your mood.

  • Omega 3’s – our bodies use healthy fat cells to transmit messages to the brain on hormone function.  When we incorporate healthy omega 3 fats, our cells speak loud and clear.  This is important when it comes to those feels good hormones like serotonin and endorphins. In fact, omega-3 fats found in krill oil have been found to work just as well as antidepressants in preventing the signs of depression.  When we eat junky trans-fats they harden the cell wall making it impossible for the cell to transmit messages to the brain on hormone function.  Scary!
  • Avoid sugar and high carbohydrate grains – both sugar and grains increase the insulin response in the body, when we limit these two substances, insulin and leptin levels are normalized – and sugar cravings are eliminated!
  • Eat probiotic rich foods daily and/or take a high quality supplement that contains Bifidobacterium.

4. Get plenty of sunshine and fresh air:

  •  Vitamin D – Have you ever noticed how great you feel after you spend time outdoors on a sunny day?  One study found that people with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 11 times more likely to be depressed.  The type of vitamin D that we absorb from the sun is actually different form the type in foods.  Essentially, it is nearly impossible to get enough vitamin D through foods, it is most important to get sunshine and fresh air.   It now appears that most adults need about 8,000 IU’s of vitamin D a day in order to get their serum levels above 40 ng/ml, which is the lowest they should be. Fifteen to thirty minutes a day of sun exposure without SPF should be enough for most people to reap benefits. It is also recommended that you get your vitamin D checked by a doctor periodically.

8 High-Sugar Foods You’re Eating Every Day

People get more sugar every day than what they realize. It’s more than just putting sugar in your coffee it’s the hidden sugars in foods that people need to be careful about.

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1. Yogurt with Fruit – usually yogurt is on the good list of foods to eat but yogurt with fruit is packed with sugar.
2. Canned Soup – sugar is added as a preservative to many canned soups to extend their shelf life.
3. Salad Dressing – it’s going on a salad so it should be healthy, but just like fruit in yogurt, salad dressing is packed with sugar.
4. Tomato Sauce – sugar is often added to cut the acidic taste of tomatoes and to keep jarred sauces fresh for a longer period.
5. Bread – 2 grams of sugar per slice…look for whole wheat flour or no added sugar.
6. Granola Bars – they sound a heck of a lot healthier than they really are. It’s pretty much glorified candy bar.
7. Dried Fruit – a handful of dried cranberries can contain up to 29 grams of sugar. Look for all-natural and no sugar added options.
8. Orange Juice – drinking a glass of orange can have almost the seem amount of sugar as a glass of pop. Eat a real orange instead!

Early Puberty…The New Normal

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Puberty, once the norm at age 15, now occurring in 7, 8, and 9-year-olds. Scientists have brought forth a number of potential explanations for the rising rates of early puberty, but one that deserves special attention is environmental chemicals, and particularly estrogen-mimicking, “gender-bending” chemicals that easily leach out of the products that contain them, contaminating everything they touch, including food and beverages.

Don’t make early puberty the new normal. What can you do to try to protect yourself and your children from common toxic substance that precocious? puberty and other long-term health problem? Here are a few ideas:

  1.  As much as possible, buy and eat organic produce and free-range, organic meats to reduce your exposure to added hormones, pesticides and fertilizers. Also avoid milk and other dairy products that contain the genetically engineered recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST)
  2. Eat mostly raw, fresh foods. Processed, prepackaged foods (of all kinds) are a major source of soy and chemicals such as BPA and phthalates.
  3. Store your food and beverages in glass rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap and canned foods (which are often lined with BPA-containing liners).
  4. Use glass baby bottles and BPA-free sippy cups for your little ones.
  5. Make sure your baby’s toys are BPA-free, such as pacifiers, teething rings and anything your child may be prone to suck on.
  6. Only use natural cleaning products in your home to avoid phthalates.
  7. Switch over to natural brands of toiletries such as shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants and cosmetics. The Environmental Working Group has a great safety guide to help you find personal care products that are free of phthalates, parabens and other potentially dangerous chemicals.
  8. Avoid using artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, fabric softeners or other synthetic fragrances, many of which can also disrupt your hormone balance.
  9. Replace your non-stick pots and pans with ceramic or glass cookware.
  10. When redoing your home, look for “green,” toxin-free alternatives in lieu of regular paint and vinyl floor coverings.
  11. Replace your vinyl shower curtain with one made of fabric.
  12. Avoid non-fermented soy, especially if you’re pregnant and in infant formula.

Find more information here – http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/04/16/early-precocious-puberty.aspx

Paleo Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies

Ingredients:
-Makes 10-12 large cookies
-1/4cup pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie in a can)
-1/2cup almond butter (or any nut butter you prefer)
-1/2 cup honey
-1tsp vanilla
-1cup almond meal/flour
-1tsp pumpkin pie spice or 1tsp ground cinnamon
-1/4tsp baking soda
-1/2cup dark chocolate chips, or any dried fruit would be wonderful
-1/2cup walnuts, or pecans, or whatever you’d like
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Combine all wet ingredients togrecipeether then add the dry ingredients and combine thoroughly. Scoop batter to whatever size you’d like and flatten out to the desired thickness since these do not spread on their own. Bake approximately 10-15 minutes, according to thickness.
Remove from baking sheet 2 minutes after cooling and transfer to cooling wrack.
These are wonderful chilled; so I store mine in an airtight bag in the refrigerator and grab a snack when I need one. These can also be frozen on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Once frozen, transfer to freezer bag and thaw before eating.
Note: There really isn’t a strong pumpkin flavor to these but if you’d like it strong, add 1/2tsp-1tsp more of the pumpkin pie spice. The dough should be sticky and when you’re ready to eat it, the cookie has a nice chewy texture. It’s simply delicious!

 

More recipes can be found here – http://www.thegirlwhowentpaleo.blogspot.com