Self Acceptance, Self Compassion, Self Love | Cara’s Kitchen Interview

No one is you, and that is your super power

What if today was your last day?

Who would you want to give one last hug goodbye? To express how deeply you care. To allow them see how amazing they are in your eyes, and how grateful you are for them.

What about giving one last hug to yourself as well?

Don’t go another day…

Wishing you could be any different than exactly as you are right now.

Counting your burdens instead of your blessings. Forcing yourself upstream, working towards goals that don’t nourish your heart and soul.

Not seeing the beauty in each moment- not realizing dreams due to a self worth deficiency. A love deficiency.

Love is an essential nutrient.

At the end of the day, I won’t need more money saved, certifications gained, or visions created..

all I will want to do is express and receive love.

Don’t look back on your life and regret all the days you spent lost in your own head.

Get swept away by the magic that you already are~

  • Write a love letter to yourself
  • A thank you letter to yourself
  • A forgiveness letter to yourself
  • Look at yourself straight in the eye in the mirror for at least 5 minutes and tell that beautiful miracle human you see how much you love them
  • Write “get to-do” lists instead of “to-do” lists
  • Count the moments that make you feel in awe
  • Feed yourself beautiful vibrant food because you want to
  • Dress up because you know you’re an absolute goddess
  • Sing, laugh, and create what you want.
  • What you want is what the universe wants.
  • We are the universe.

sending so much love. I hope this helps someone out there

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VEGAN PREGNANCY

Wow. What an extremely lucky child to have a parent reading this. Can you believe you are creating life?! This is HUGE! I am so glad that you are here. Educating yourself for not only an incredibly healthy and happy you, but the best future for your magnificently blessed kiddo as well ❤

YES as a matter of fact there is nothing missing in a vegan diet to raise an EXTREMELY  healthy happy successful, talented, bright, beautiful, and alive child. AND you are dramatically reducing your risk for complications, pain, sickness, and beyond.

Resources:

Vegetarian Diet Pregnancy PDF – Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine

Dr. McDougall Vegan Pregnancy Newsletter PDF

Vegetarian Infants PDF // Vegetarian Diets Pregnancy – Academy of Nutrition + Dietetics

Vegan Pregnancy Brochure // Pregnancy + Vegan Diet – Vegetarian Resource Group

Nutrition During Pregnancy – Cleveland Clinic

Academy Link: HELPFUL

Top 10 Tips:

  1. Educate yourself with all of the material on this post! In general, pregnant women only require about 300 extra calories per day from starch. This video is very informative!
  2. Emphasize beans and greens combined with a source of vitamin C like lemon or orange juice for peak iron absorption. (great recipes)
  3. Incorporate omega-3s daily: ground flax, chia, walnut, hemp, and leafy greens daily for omega-3s (vegan algael oil DHA supplement if you’d like) for a super smart baby 😀
  4.  Incorporate calcium rich foods: kale, broccoli, collards, okra, oranges, figs or calcium-set tofu, fortified plant based milk, etc. daily
  5. Get iodine from a dulse or kelp shaker, nori, Eden’s brand beans, or sea palm. Iodized salt is not the best source of iodine as concentrated sodium like that in salt + high sodium foods has been shown to increase blood pressure and may lead to preeclampsia.
  6. Take a B12 supplement 2-6x / week if not already in your multi / fortified foods
  7. Avoid seafood!!! Heavy metals cross placenta as they detox from mom’s body into baby while pregnant and breastfeeding.  Mercury, antibiotics, and other additives and heavy metals in seafood and other animal products should be avoided.
  8. Spend at least 20 minutes / day in nature if you can. Relax! Take it easy! Get some natural sunshine vitamin D or make sure it is in you multi or be sure to take a supplement 2000IU/ day should do the trick 🙂
  9. Emphasize whole plant foods like veggies, whole grains, fruit, beans, seeds, and nuts and minimize processed foods like added sugars, processed oils, white and refined flours and flour products, and added sodium and salt.
  10. Practice Intuition: what do you feel like eating? An entire watermelon? Fantastic! 3 whole heads of lettuce with an avocado?! Amazing. Our bodies are incredible. Meditate, listen to what it wants, stay calm, and have so much fun!

Some mama inspo + info for ya:

DR. MICHAEL GREGER of nutritionfacts.org:

HEALTHY PREGNANCY PLAYLIST MUST WATCH

Mr. and Mrs. Vegan:

  1. How to Make a BABY! [Healthy Pregnancy Diet]
  2. USDA Guidelines for Vegans + Meal Plan that Meets Needs
  3. What Eat in A Day While Pregnant // Two Recipes

Ellen Fisher:

  1. Pregnant with 3rd Vegan Child
  2. VEGAN MOMS TALK: Tips for Raising Healthy Vegan Kids
  3. What my vegan 4 year old ate today

Supplementation:

MyKind Organics Prenatal:

Garden of Life Organic Prenatal Multivitamin Supplement with Folate – mykind Whole Food Prenatal Vitamin, Vegan, 180 Tablets

Iron supplement I recommend:

MegaFood – Blood Builder, Energy Boosting Iron Supplement, 90 Tablets (FFP)

More Resources:

Books:

The Kind Mama: Book and Website by Alicia Silverstone


The Kind Mama: A Simple Guide to Supercharged Fertility, a Radiant Pregnancy, a Sweeter Birth, and a Healthier, More Beautiful Beginning

The Everything Vegan Pregnancy Book: All you need to know for a healthy pregnancy that fits your lifestyle (Everything Series)

Skinny Bitch Bun in the Oven: A Gutsy Guide to Becoming One Hot (and Healthy) Mother!

Websites + more PDFs:

Feeding Vegan Kids. The Vegetarian Resource Group. http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/kids.htm. Practical information for parents of children from infancy through adolescence.

Vegetarian Nutrition for Teenagers. The Vegetarian Resource Group. Available at: http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/teen_veg.pdf. Brochure designed for teen vegetarians. Covers key nutrients, body weight issues, and simple snacks.

Raising Vegetarian Children. Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group. Available at:http://vegetariannutrition.net/vegetarian-kids/ Blog written by registered dietitians with suggestions for vegetarian families.

Teen FAQs. Vegetarian Resource Group. Available at: http://www.vrg.org/teen/. Questions and answers about nutrition, social situations, family issues, foods and cooking for vegetarian teens.

Vegetarian Teens. Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group. Available at: http://vegetariannutrition.net/vegetarian-teens/Blog written by registered dietitians with a focus on vegetarian teens.

Vegan Lunch Box Blog. Available at: http://veganlunchbox.blogspot.com/. Blog includes many ideas for healthy packed lunches for vegetarian and vegan children.

Vegetarian Diet: How to Get the Best Nutrition. Mayo Clinic. Available at: http://mayoclinic.com/health/vegetarian-diet/HQ01596. Includes information on substitutes for milk, butter, cheese, and eggs.

Becoming a Vegetarian. Nemours Foundation. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/teen/nutrition/diets/vegetarian.html. Article aimed at teenagers who are interested in becoming vegetarian.

11 Ways to Improve Endurance

 

So you wanna be a superhero? Me too. Let’s start with endurance.  I’ve got the research, now all you have to do is put in the effort. Here’s my 11 tips:

1. Train

Think you have to keel over to improve your endurance? Think again. According to the ACE Personal Trainer Manual 5th edition, studies have shown that endurance improvement favored those who had performed more zone 1 training.

80% of training should be done at intensities where speech is comfortable (zone 1) and only about 10% of training should be performed at intensities above VT2 (zone 3, where blood lactate increases significantly).

It would make sense that this 80% zone 1 training should, for the most part, be performed relatively high in zone 1.  So, if you are just getting into endurance activities like running, just getting started will improve your endurance.  However, to really get your speed up and improve, get a little uncomfortable with the “talk test.” Can you sing comfortably while you are running? If you can, then you can definitely try to go a little faster. Get on those hills, and laugh fearlessly at your struggles!

2. Hydrate

Did you know that muscles are 70-75% water? That’s right! According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic’s Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, muscle is only 15-20% protein, 5-7% fat, glycogen, and minerals.

Why is hydration important?

  • Temperature regulation
  • Blood volume + blood pressure
  • Keep organs, kidneys, cells, working optimally
  • Prevent dehydration

Things to consider:

  • Weather
  • Clothing
  • Your personal sweaty-ness

According to the American Counsel on Exercise (ACE):

  • ~4 hours before the event, drink 3-4 cups of water + weigh yourself
  • > during the event: definitely varies, but drink about ½ cup water every 20 minute
  • after event drink about 2 cups of water for every pound that you lost during the event

IMPORTANT: Prevent depletion in electrolytes like sodium and potassium as those are necessary for muscle contraction and blood pressure regulation which, if low can cause cramping, twitching and even heart issues. These electrolytes may be excreted with sweat

In general, water alone should be fine to rehydrate, but if it is extra humid or you lose 3% or more body weight during the event I recommend a natural electrolyte beverage like coconut water and / or datorade.

Dateorade:

  • 2 cups water
  • ½ lime or lemon, juiced
  • 2-3 dates
  • maybe a pinch of Himalayan salt or dulse flakes

Blend for about 1 minute. This provides natural sources of electrolytes, antioxidants and nutrients without the added colors, flavors, or refined sugars and is a great go-to beverage before, during, and after an event.

3. Carb Load Correctly

FACT: Activity that lasts longer than several hours depletes glycogen stores. Carbohydrates consumed during exercise helps endurance athletes maintain a fast pace; fat is used more efficiently for fuel as exercise continues. Protein is a very minor fuel source during endurance exercise.

PROTEIN: it is important for repairing tissues, making enzymes + hormones, transporting nutrients, making muscles contract, regulating water balance. However, if you don’t consume enough carbs for your high energy demands, the body will use protein for energy instead which is EXTREMELY COUNTERPRODUCTIVE TO YOUR PHYSICAL GOALS! Although protein may supply energy, extra amounts are not your best fuel. While carbs are stored in the muscle and liver as glycogen to be used for quick energy, excess protein is stored as fat, and not used for energy if you already consume enough calories. In general, protein should supply 10-35% of overall calorie intake which is met easily without powders or supplements in a balanced whole foods plant based diet. Since athletes usually eat more with a good appetite, they easily get the protein and nutrients they need. Protein requires more fluid in order to be metabolized because we need to excrete the toxic nitrogenous waste as urea so can lead to kidney issues, dehydration, cramping, and fatigue.

Energy need for endurance sports depends on body size, duration of activity, and overall effort. An elite athlete may need 4000-6000 calories daily, chosen from a high carbohydrate diet. Don’t worry about calculating your protein because if you are eating a balanced diet of whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits, and are eating enough calories, the protein in these foods will add up to be enough protein.

7 days before the event:

  • Days 1-3 Moderate-CHO diet of around 55% of calories, in general, recommendations are 45-65% of calories should come from carbohydrates
  • Days 4-6 Increase to high carbohydrate diet of about 80% of calories
  • Dinner before the event: >80% calories from carbohydrates

4. Four Hours Out:

Simple balanced meal should be fine. Try to keep it around 500 calories and under to prevent fatigue and slow gastric emptying. If you are nervous it is ok to eat less and eat more simple carbs like fruit or fruit juice 1-2 hours before the event

5. Pre Workout

While what you eat pre-workout is very important, it is essential that the previous workout was properly recovered from and that we eat a healthy balanced diet with adequate calories and nutrients on a daily basis.

Day of the event: If in the morning, I recommend staying light with datorade or fruit juice beverage. Within 1-2 hours of event, The food eaten should be around 200-300 calories, high in carbohydrate to maximize blood glucose availability, and low in fat and fiber to minimize GI distress and facilitate gastric emptying, it should be moderate to low in protein, and known to be well tolerated by you. A go to for before, during, and after workouts.

6. During Event

During extended training sessions, lasting longer than 1 hour, and especially in extreme heat, cold or high altitude, exercisers should consume 30-60g CHO / hr of training to maintain blood glucose levels.

30-60 grams of carbs looks like:

  • 1 large ripe banana
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 5-6 dates.

7. Post Workout

Eat in abundance! It is counterproductive for endurance athletes to restrict. The best meals post workout include an abundance of carbohydrates accompanied by some protein. ACE recommends about 2.2 grams of carbs for each pound of body weight to be eaten within the first 30 minutes after exercise and then every 2 hours for 4-6 hours. A diet of whole plant foods consisting of vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fruit that is sufficient in calories should provide adequate post-workout carbohydrates and protein.

8. Prevent Pain

Prevent oxidative stress and reduce cell damage and muscle pain with: Antioxidants

  • Antioxidant power aka the power to protect our cells from damage was significantly increased with banana beverage versus plain carbohydrate beverage
  • Cherry juice was shown to decrease perceived pain significantly in runners versus placebo cherry flavored drink
  • There are lots of studies out there on various plant foods, when choosing fuel to prevent pain, recover quickly I recommend whole plant foods

9. Improve Oxygen Utilization

Yes, Nitrates are components in plant foods like beets, spinach, celery, and arugula that can cause athletes to perform intensely with less oxygen needed. Crazy!

In a study with cyclists, beet juice compared to current juice improved oxygen utilization by a whopping 20% which is quite significant. Drinking beet juice is so powerful that it can bring someones high blood pressure down within 3 hours. Also, pharmaceutical companies use this concept for patients with chest pain to help with blood flow. These drugs are called nitroglycerines. You know another nitrate drug? It’s called Viagra and it certainly improves blood flow but you might as well just eat your vegetables.

How do nitrates work? Bacteria in our saliva convert it to nitric oxide. HOWEVER be sure to not use antibacterial mouth wash because this has been shown to deplete healthy mouth bacteria and therefore inhibit the conversion of nitrate to nitric oxide to allow us to oxygenate our blood.

10. Build Blood

Think you don’t need to eat your greens? Ever been to a smoothie joint that sold wheatgrass shots? One thing that wheatgrass juice is dense in is that dark green pigment called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll has been shown to increase hemoglobin in anemic rabbits. Hemoglobin is the component of blood that carries oxygen and as you can see is very similar to chlorophyll in dark leafy green vegetables. I recommend eating about 5 cups of leafy greens daily.

11. Adequate REST

Symptoms can be both physiological and emotional and are highly individualized.

Signs/ symptoms of overtraining:

  • decline in performance with continued training
  • sleep disturbances
  • weight loss
  • multiple colds / frequent sickness
  • irritability, restlessness, anxiousness
  • loss of motivation / vigor
  • lack of mental concentration / focus
  • lack of appreciation for things that are normally enjoyable

Best way to prevent overtraining is with periodization: alternate easy, moderate, and hard periods of training. Generally, one or two days of intense training should be followed by an equal number of easy training days. A week or two of hard training should be followed by a week or two of easier effort.

Today you learned

about hydration, the talk test, carbohydrate loading, what to eat pre, during, and post workout, how to prevent muscle soreness, how to increase oxygen utilization and how to build blood and prevent overtraining. Get out there and awaken your inner athlete! Give this video a thumbs up, leave your comments below, and remember. Deep down, you truly are a morning person. Wake up and live, Reines and shine!

Dr. Michael Greger’s “Doping with Beet Juice” : http://nutritionfacts.org/video/doping-with-beet-juice/

Dr. Michael Greger’s “Enhanced Athletic Recovery Without Undermining Adaptation” : http://nutritionfacts.org/video/enhanced-athletic-recovery-without-undermining-adaptation/

Cherry Juice Study: G. Howatson, M. P. McHugh, J. A. Hill, J. Brouner, A. P. Jewell, K. A. van Someren, R. E. Shave, S. A. Howatson. Influence of tart cherry juice on indices of recovery following marathon running. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010 20(6):843 – 852.

Beet Juice Study: Bailey SJ, Winyard P, Vanhatalo A, et al. Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of low-intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise in humans. Journal of Applied Physiology. August 6, 2009. 107: 1144-1155.

Antibacterial Mouthwash and Nitric Oxide: Goconi M, Janasson E, Weitzberg E, et al. The increase in plasma nitrite after a dietary nitrate load is markedly attenuated by an antibacterial mouthwash. Elsevier. 2008. 2: 171-177.

Anemic Rabbits Study: Hughes JH, Latner AL. Chlorophyll and Hemoglobin Regeneration after Hemorrhage. Journal of Physiology. 1936. 612 (119) :338-395

Chlorophyll and Hemoglobin: Hughes JH, Latner AL. Chlorophyll and Hemoglobin Regeneration after Hemorrhage. Journal of Physiology. 1936. 612 (119) :338-395

RL Duyff. American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2006. Print.

American Council on Exercise: https://www.acefitness.org/

Healthy Pasta TASTE TEST + 4 Reasons Why I STILL Avoid Gluten

 

Pasta. What a delectable vehicle for vegetables!  Add your favorite beans, steamed veggies, and tomato sauce and BOOM! An impressive gourmet dinner.  While intact grains are the gold standard (grains in their whole form), whole grains, yes including their bran, germ, and endosperm, are milled into a fine flour to make whole grain pastas, breakfast cereals, and other “whole grain” products.  A few examples of legit whole intact grains would be steel cut oats, brown rice, quinoa, and millet.

wholegrains

How to tell if the product is WHOLE GRAIN?

  1. Whole grain stamp is on the package
  2. “100%” or “Whole” are used to describe it
  3. The first ingredient listed is a whole grain

refinedgrains

Refined grains are not only grains milled into a flour, but their grain was stripped of the nutrient and fiber containing bran and germ! Murder! Refined grains are white / light in color and examples include white bread, cookies, cakes, pretzels, white rice, regular pasta, and anything made with white flour. Darn!

Don’t fret too much! The recommendation is:

Make at least 1/2 of your grains whole grains.

Grains are an important part of a healthy balanced diet for fiber, iron,powerplategraphichirez magnesium, selenium, b vitamins, and lasting energy! Be sure to include them on your plate.

The Taste Test

Well before #1, my personal favorite is ZUCCHINILINI OF COURSE! Which is simply zucchini or summer squash, spirilized to look and feel like spaghetti. I like to mix it with pasta dishes to add bulk, flavor, color, and more veg of course!

#1 Nature’s Promise Whole Wheat Spaghetti: #1 in taste, texture, and nutritional profile. Contains gluten.

#2. Bionaturae Gluten Free Corn and Soy Spaghetti: Fabulous texture and taste and with 5g protein and 6% iron, this product is ok. Low in fiber :-/

#3. Jovial Gluten Free Brown Rice Spaghetti: Quite sticky texture, but great flavor and elasticity.  Would go great with a sauce. However, low in fiber although whole grain. Brown rice is naturally low in fiber.

 

#4. Ancient Harvest Gluten Free Corn and Quinoa Spaghetti: Texture dry and kinda crunchy, but a good source of fiber at 16% daily value and 10% iron!

#5. Andean Dream Quinoa Gluten Free Spaghetti: Texture was definitely a little sandy.  But I must say with 6% calcium, 12% iron, and just barely a good source of fiber at 10% daily value, not bad.

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The Consensus:

The quinoa based gluten free products have a better nutritional profile, but are not as delicious as the lower fiber rice based ones.

Why I personally still avoid Gluten?

Do I go out of my way to avoid gluten?

No.  I still enjoy it in moderation. My mom makes homemade bread and pizza with gluten which I eat occasionally.  My diet is whole foods based, so I rarely purchase packaged products that might contain gluten.

Do I eat gluten every day?

No.  Maybe I eat a gluten containing meal or snack 3-4 times a week.  I am generally healthy and do not currently feel any reason to put more effort into seriously avoiding wheat, barley, rye, and foods containing gluten 100% of the time.

Why I make this personal choice:

  1. My sister has ulcerative colitis, which is similar to celiacs in that they are both autoimmune inflammatory intestinal disorders. With a genetic risk factor in my family, I try to not over load the gluten as a personal preventative measure.
  2. Studies linking gluten and autism spectrum disorders autism-and-nutrition-1. The GFCF (gluten free casein free) diet has been shown to help people with ADHD and autism, what else could it be linked to? I am ever curious and after reading such articles have trouble stomaching gluten (and of course would never recommend drinking milk).
  3. Naturopaths recommend avoiding gluten initially when trying to avoid inflammation with an “elimination diet,” along with dairy and other common inflammatory trigger foods. With this in mind, many people have success reversing adverse symptoms like rashes, IBS, fatigue, etc (SO MANY), once they remove gluten from their diet.  I grew up with canker sores, weird rashes, and eczema so, avoiding inflammation (and gluten) is in my best interest.
  4. Close friends with celiac disease so it is easier for everybody to find a gluten free delicious option!

While as you could see from the video, a gluten free diet is not recommended for the general public because it tends to have less nutrients. Be a savvy shopper and let me know if you have any questions! Enjoy those intact whole grains and plant yums! xx

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Rainbow Ginger Citrus Zoodles | Raw, Vegan, Simple, Delicious.

The research I am doing for my graduate program is on plant foods and cancer- I am on cloud 8374378457 with all the EUREKA WHATT research that is out there!! Sulforaphane in broccoli, sweet potato protein, flavanols in cacao, cranberries, blueberries, tomatoes, the plant kingdom cures cancer!! Amazing! The best is to get organic and picked ripe because plants produce natural components called salvestrols to protect themselves from harm similarly to how the plant foods protect us.  It. Is. Unbelievable. Potent cancer killers without harming the body, truly healing it. Mind, body, spirit, immunity, vitality, sustainability ❤ Eat the rainbow, reap the success, love, beauty, and happiness *starstruck*

Rainbow Citrus Zoodles

citrus zoodles

The Noodles:

  • 4 small zucchini, spiralized
  • 2-3 medium carrots, spiralized
  • 1 small red bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 2 purple cabbage leaves, sliced thin

The Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup fresh scallion
  • a quarter sized chunk of ginger
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. tahini
  1. Combine noodles in a large bowl
  2. Blend sauce ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth
  3. Drizzle over noodles, mix and devour with some people you love!

History in the Making: Dietitians of South Texas Tour Their New 100% Organic Grocery Store

In a city of McDonalds, Whataburger, Wal-Mart, obesity and diabetes, a world saving beacon of health and sustainability opens; fully equipped with the highest quality produce/products, demonstration kitchen, vitamins/herbs/supplements, beauty products, books, and, it’s love!

natural grocers
Natural Grocers 100% Organic Grocery Opens March 15, 2016

Today, I had the opportunity to get a tour of the store with the Corpus Christi Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics group lead by the wonderful dietitian there, Kelsey. I was extremely impressed by this tour. A grocery store tour to dietitians? Please, as if they could learn anything more, but we all did! Like how Kelsey pointed out that the hemp seeds, walnuts, and other unstable fats are kept in the refrigerated section (polyunsaturated fats become rancid very easily, creating free radicals, so they must be kept cool). I have learned this previously but I have never seen a grocery store actually put their nuts and seeds in the refrigerator!

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The sign above us says, “100% organic produce,” yes, I am the obnoxious intern that made everybody get in front of the produce section and asked the cashier to take our picture 🙂

The Tour~

Kristen gave us all a LONG list of things that Natural Grocers will NOT carry.  Including ingredients that I am quite familiar with like GMOs (genetically modified organisms), hydrogenated oils (trans fats), bleached flours, parabens (mimic estrogen and cause reproductive disorders), dairy products from cows given rBGH (recombinant  Bovine Growth Hormone), artificial sweeteners (all of them), and artificial colors and flavors, as well as so many that I have seen before but even (a nutrition nerd grad student studying nutrition) have seen but no clue what they are!

Ingredients like DBP (dibutyl phthalate) which is a fragrance ingredient, plasticizer, and solvent that is a reproductive and developmental toxin, endocrine disruptor, and a known human respiratory toxin.  Also, BHA and BHT (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) and (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) are preservatives that have been shown to be carcinogenic and cause allergic reactions in humans.  I could go on..This place doesn’t even carry chemical based sunscreens or antibacterial soaps! Amen!

A few more reasons why I’m in love with this place:

  • No bags, you have to bring your own! (or they use a cardboard box)
  • GF (gluten free) items are all marked clearly next to price on shelf
  • Local is emphasized and marked clearly with a Texas flag on shelf
  • Lots of cheap “Health Hotline” sale items
  • Bulk specialty items from mulberries and goji berries to raw buckwheat groats
  • WIDE variety of vegan items
  • Reverse osmosis water filter, only $0.25 to refill a gallon
  • Nutrition experts- these people know their stuff!
  • To reduce waste and cut cost of items: no deli/freshly prepared items (ever wonder where all the fresh baked goods from Whole Foods goes at the end of the day? Yup, in the trash #wasteful. !
  • No self serve bulk bins but still has large packages of items in bulk – reduces contamination and food waste
  • Huge wall of shelves with high quality nutritional reference and cookbooks

They even have cool events like this Saturday they have a gluten free tasting expo and health fair! Aw chocolate avocado pie food demo, and “How to live an alkaline lifestyle” is on Monday April 11th. Check out their website for more info on events.

A little bit about my internship…

I can’t believe it, I completed my food service and community rotations last semester and am now half way through my clinical rotation! Eeek! As a snob from the Boston area who  works at a raw vegan cafe called “Organic Garden Cafe” back home, I was nervous that I wouldn’t get to learn new innovations of nutrition while working as an intern in a program that emphasizes the low income communities of South Texas.

I could not be more pleasantly surprised and excited about my feelings towards this internship right now.  It brings me such joy and power to have worked with the people of this community. Diabetics who do not know what a carbohydrate is, teen mom’s going out for a cigarette, and people who are truly afraid to lose weight because they have (and their family and friends) have always been big, so if they lost weight, what would they think!? Many of these people do not want to change, and even if they did, where to even start? As my sister, the writer, put it, “You need to learn the script before you can re-write a new one.

My clinical preceptor now, Shannon Aguilar, has helped me to not only be a much more confident clinical dietitian, but to take it a step further, too.  It is one thing to study nutrition, it is quite another to actually care enough to reflect on our own lives and practice what we preach.  My preceptor, Mrs. Aguilar, is more than a dietitian, she is also a health coach, and helped me to see how important it is to learn who our audience is before we try to help.

Seeing a grocery store like this open in Boston or Vermont would have been a, yawn. Another natural grocery? But, HERE! I get to see history in the making. These people having access to this kind of world saving expertise is dream come true for me.

There is something really cool about the idea of helping people who really need it AND want it. I could talk coconut oil and kale to the organic junkies back home all day every day, but that doesn’t reverse our obesity epidemic now does it? I may have thought that my second round match was a mistake, but actually, it was the best eye-opening and invigorating experience.  To be able to explain what a carbohydrate is to someone who has no clue? Check. Next: to reverse their disease through diet and lifestyle! No matter where I end up, I hope to make a positive impact and continue to be pleasantly surprised by all that I learn from the experience.

Nut, Ginger, and Chocolate Radiance Bars

Your search for a healthy crowd-pleasing holiday treat ends here. These are perfectly sweet and satisfying with a warming hint of ginger, and an irresistible combination of crunch and chocolatey creaminess.  Please watch the recipe video from http://www.greenkitchenstories.com for the original recipe.  It is my favorite recipe video of all time, beautiful videography ❤ and the recipe is truly delicious.

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Makes about 24 bars

  • 10 coconut date rolls
  • 2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil
  • 1 cup raw almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 cup puffed millet
  • 1 handful walnuts, chopped
  • ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3.5oz 60% dark chocolate
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  1. Watch video
  2. Combine date rolls together by smushing them with a fork on a plate and add to a medium saucepan over low heat with coconut oil, almond butter, and grated ginger. Mix well to combine
  3. Add in millet, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and salt and mix well
  4. Line a 13” x 9” pan with parchment paper and press mixture evenly into pan
  5. Melt chocolate and spread over the top. Sprinkle with coconut flakes.
  6. Cover and freeze for about an hour. Cut into 24 bars. Store in the freezer or refrigerator.

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1 Bar (based on 24 bar yield):
Calories 140
Protein 3g
Carbohydrate 8g
Total Fat 12g
Fiber 2g
Cholesterol 0mg

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Why these bars make you radiant?

  • Sweetened with fruit with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants; preventing blood sugar spike and crash which ultimately prevents depression, fatigue, and cravings for more sugar
  • Coconut oil, although the gold standard saturated fat source, should be regarded like any other oil: a concentrated food that provides a lot of calories with limited nutrients. It’s okay to use some unrefined high-quality coconut oil when preparing special-occasion treats, but as with other oils, its use should be minimized. *read more about coconut + coconut oil in article below!
  • Almonds are high in the antioxidant vitamin E, which protects cell membranes from damage; preventing disease, inflammation, muscle soreness, and keeping skin glowing preventing wrinkles
  • Ginger is well known for its powers of healing indigestion and migraine headaches. Ginger also has potent anti-inflammatory properties
  • Millet is a whole grain, a complex carbohydrate helping to maintain stable energy levels throughout the day. It also has protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals
  • Walnuts contain the essential omega-3 fatty acids, which convert to the most abundant fatty acid in our brains, DHA. Omega-3s in the diet improve focus and cognitive function, and they have also been shown to decrease inflammation leading to heart disease.
  • Raw pumpkin seeds are a fabulous source of minerals like zinc, which is important for immune system function as well as formation of proteins and DNA. Pumpkin seeds also have vitamins like the antioxidant vitamin E mentioned previously.
  • Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are part of a group of antioxidants known as polyphenols. These flavonoids may decrease oxidation (damage) from LDL cholesterol and lower blood pressure. Also, chocolate contains many minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium

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*Coconut Oil Info:

“Few foods have been at once as maligned and acclaimed as coconut oil. Because it’s the most concentrated source of saturated fat in the food supply—even higher than lard or butter—some view it as a notorious health villain. Not surprisingly, it rests atop the “avoid” column of mainstream healthy-heart-food lists.

Others view coconut oil as a fountain of youth and the greatest health discovery in decades. These advocates claim that coconut oil can provide therapeutic benefits for Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, cancer, diabetes, digestive disturbances, heart disease, high blood pressure, HIV, kidney disease, osteoporosis, overweight, Parkinson’s disease, and many other serious conditions. So what’s the truth?

Based on the available science, coconut oil is neither a menace nor a miracle food. Coconut oil should be regarded like any other oil: a concentrated food that provides a lot of calories with limited nutrients. It’s okay to use some high-quality coconut oil when preparing special-occasion treats, but as with other oils, its use should be minimized. On the other hand, whole coconut should be treated in much the same way as other high-fat plant foods—enjoyed primarily as a whole food. As such, it’s loaded with fiber, vitamin E, and healthful phytochemicals, and has powerful antimicrobial properties.

The relative health effects of coconut oil consumption remain somewhat uncertain. Some people believe that eating coconut oil does no harm because it’s cholesterol-free; others claim it’s harmful because it lacks essential fatty acids. But we can’t ignore the fact that in many parts of the world where coconut and coconut oil are the principal sources of dietary fat, the rates of chronic disease, including CAD, are low. There is one major caveat: the benefits seem to apply only when coconut products are consumed as part of a diet rich in high-fiber plant foods and lacking processed foods.

The people of the Marshall Islands provide a poignant example. The traditional Marshallese diet employed a wide variety of coconut products, which furnished an estimated 50 to 60 percent of total calories. Seventy years ago, when this diet was standard fare, diabetes was pretty much unheard of. When their indigenous diet gave way to a Western-style diet of processed foods and fatty animal products, diabetes rates escalated even though coconut products continued to be featured prominently in the diet.

Coconut oil is so often blacklisted by health-care providers mainly because approximately 87 percent of its fat is saturated. Many people imagine saturated fat as a single tyrant that clogs arteries, but different types of saturated fats exist. They contain fatty acid chains whose lengths contain from 4 to 30 carbon atoms. Depending on the length of the carbon chain, these fatty acids have very different effects on blood cholesterol levels and on health.

The most common saturated fatty acids are lauric acid, myristic acid, palmitic acid, and stearic acid. Their carbon-chain length and main food sources are:

  • lauric acid (12 carbon atoms): coconut, coconut oil, palm kernel oil
  • myristic acid (14 carbon atoms): dairy products, coconut, palm oil, palm kernel oil, nutmeg oil
  • palmitic acid (16 carbon atoms): palm oil, animal fats
  • stearic acid (18 carbon atoms): cocoa butter, mutton fat, beef fat, lard, butter

Saturated fatty acids with 12 to 16 carbon atoms increase LDL cholesterol levels, while 18-carbon stearic acid doesn’t. However, stearic acid isn’t completely off the hook; some evidence shows high intakes could adversely affect other CVD risk factors, such as lipoprotein(a) and certain clotting factors.

As it happens, approximately three-quarters of the fat in coconut oil comprises saturated fatty acids known to raise blood cholesterol levels: 15 percent is saturated fatty acids with small carbon chains (6 to 10 carbon atoms), 47 percent is lauric acid, 18 percent is myristic acid, 9 percent is palmitic acid, and 3 percent is stearic acid. Case closed?

Well, not exactly. The predominant fatty acid, lauric acid, does raise total cholesterol, but it appears to raise HDL cholesterol to an even greater extent than LDL cholesterol, favorably altering the ratio of HDL to total cholesterol. In addition, lauric acid is converted in the body into monolaurin, a powerful antiviral, antifungal, and antiseptic compound—and coconut oil is among the richest food sources of lauric acid. There’s also evidence that coconut products have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. However, the compounds responsible (which include a variety of phytochemicals, such as phenolic acids) are largely eliminated when coconut oil is refined.”

– See more at: http://plantbaseddietitian.com/coconut-oil-menace-or-miracle/#sthash.ld9rrM3w.dpuf

How to Sprout and Cook Beans: Cheap Protein Packed Magic Foods

Cooked or Sprouted Beans?

Which is healthier?  Nobody says it better than Dr. Michael Gregor of http://www.nutritionfacts.org.  Watch his video on the topic here. The main takeaway: America should definitely eat more beans, no matter sprouted or boiled. One protein and fiber packed disease fighting food that is literally $0.45 per pound?! Is this real life!? Buying dry beans in bulk not only stretches your dollar ridiculously (sprouting is seriously a garden on steroids), but beans are an important element in our diets. If you do buy canned, be sure that it is low sodium. I recommend purchasing the Eden’s brand.

The Nutrients

According to USDA’s supertracker  1/2 cup of pinto beans cooked from dry contains 6 grams of protein (as much protein as an egg) , 4 grams of fiber (recommendation is about 25 grams / day), and about 20% the daily recommendation for folate. What supertracker doesn’t mention is that many studies have shown that phytates in beans are incredible magic cancer fighters. The fiber and antioxidants in beans also help promote healthy gut bacteria, weight goals, decrease inflammation, the list goes on. Enjoy!

Recipes

All of these recipes with beans from Forks Over Knives , the Post Punk Kitchen and Pinterest look awesome! My personal favorite recipes with beans are Black Bean Brownies and my mom’s EPIC Chili! Although these recipes call for canned, I use boiled and it works just as well.  Hummus with chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, ohh baby there are SO many kinds of beans!!! I CHALLENGE you to try them ALL!

Step 1. SOAK

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1/4 container with dried beans
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Fill the container with water and let sit for about 6 hours or overnight

Step 2. RINSE

 

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Dump out water and they are ready to boil!

Step 3. BOIL OR EAT RAW

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Rinse 1-3 times a day for 1-3 days to sprout. Keep on countertop or in a warm and dry place. To cook, just boil for about 30 minutes, feel free to add a garlic clove, bay leaf, or other spices. Low sodium vegetable broth is good too.
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To stop the tails from growing, put them in the fridge. 🙂 Yum!
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Eat your medicine ❤

Light? Low? Free? What Does the Packaging Really Tell Us?

There is a lot of lingo thrown at us in the grocery store.  From oatmeal magically lowering cholesterol to fat-free peanut butter? Can this be?! These explanations will help you to discover what the labels mean so you can choose the best option. >> I highly recommend going to http://www.fooducate.com/ or downloading the app- you can look up products and see how healthy they are, quick and easy!

don't be fooled

Descriptions of Nutrient Claims

  • Free – no amount of or a trivial amount of calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol or sodium; calorie-free is defined as less than 5 calories per serving
  • Good source – is defined as 10-19% of daily value of a certain nutrient per serving
  • High – is defined as more than 20% of daily value of a certain nutrient per serving
  • Less – is defined as containing 25% less of a certain nutrient than a standard food
  • Light – is defined as containing 1/3 less calories or 1/2 fat of a standard food (is this a good thing!? beware of crazy ingredients on the label that you don’t recognize, it is likely a fake sweetener that is illegal in other countries and linked to cancer!)
  • Low – is defined in certain nutrient terms
  • low fat – 3 grams or less per serving
  • low saturated fat – 1 gram or less per serving
  • low sodium – 140 mg or less per serving
  • low calorie – 40 calories or less per serving
  • more – is defined as containing 10% of nutrient daily value when compared to a standard food

Beware of TRANS FAT

Aka hydrogenated oils or mono or diglycerides on the ingredients label. Food labels are allowed to say that they have 0g trans fat per serving if there is less than 0.5g trans fat per serving. However, it is likely that the serving size is ridiculously small (like on non-stick cooking spray). If you see hydrogenated oil or mono or di glycerides I would not recommend purchasing the product.

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Find a brand with zero hydrogenated oils!

Organic Or Natural?

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  • Natural: a product that has no artificial ingredient or added color and is minimally processed. Although consumers purchasing “natural” meat, poultry, and eggs can be happy that there are no artificial ingredients or colors added, it’s important to remember “natural” does not mean hormone-free or antibiotic-free; these are separate labels, also regulated by the USDA.
  • Organic: certified organic and contain at least 95% organic content. Organic food is produced using approved organic farming methods “that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Specifically, “synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used” to produce organic food, meaning that organic food products are not genetically modified and have not been treated with synthetic pesticides or fertilizers

PLU Codes:

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You know, those numbers that every food in the produce department has? They mean something!

  • 4 digit codes: conventionally grown
  • 5 digit code that starts with a ‘9’ : organically grown
  • 5 digit code that starts with a ‘8’ : Genetically Modified Organism *avoid* unfortunately, I have never seen this used.  GMOs are secretive and discretely used in packaged items as corn and soy oil.  Good luck to us Americans! Hope GMOs are clearly labeled soon!

Food Label Health Claims – those foods making health claims must follow the following criteria:

  1. must be a naturally good source of at least one of the following nutrients – vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, protein, or fiber
  2. foods containing more than 20% daily value of total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, or sodium cannot carry health claims

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  • Calcium and osteoporosis
  • Fat and cancer
  • Fiber containing products such as vegetables, fruits, grains and cancer
  • Fiber containing products and heart disease
  • Fruits and vegetables and cancer
  • Folic acid and neural tube defects
  • Saturated fat and cholesterol and heart disease
  • Sodium and hypertension
  • Whole grains and heart disease & cancer
  • Sugar alcohols and tooth decay
  • Soluble fiber and heart disease
  • Soy protein and heart disease
  • Plant sterol and heart disease
  • Potassium and hypertension & stroke

6 Tips to Positive Self Talk

Look good, feel good. Honored to have an article published on my fashionable friend: Kelly Schneider’s blog diamondsfordimes where she shows how to make all the latest looks affordable. Check it out!  Thinking about my love for fashion, I am reminded of the dark side. The perfectionist part of me that always wished my waist was smaller and my boobs were bigger.. anyone out there relate? Let’s love ourselves in our own skin! Gawd Dangit!

6 Tips to Positive Self Talk:

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Here are some tips to turn off those thoughts going off in our heads that are just, unnecessary. Since I began making these simple changes, I have been feeling more free and beautiful everyday. I hope that you feel the same.

  1. Notice Negativity: The first step to replacing negative thoughts with positive ones is noticing the negative thoughts in the first place. Those thoughts we throw around casually, “This sucks”, “I’m so dumb.” We all do it. Once we notice it happening, we can harness it and change how we think, “I am growing and learning from my mistakes.”
  2. Get the Gratitude Attitude: Instead of thinking about what we don’t have, let’s focus on what we do Try thinking through things to be grateful for when the negative thoughts come.
  3. The Opinion That Matters: The approval from others may seem important, but actually the approval from that we give ourselves is what really matters. The opinions of others will always change, but our opinions of ourselves will last a lifetime.
  4. Embrace Uniqueness: Remember in middle school when all we wanted was to fit in? Well, in adulting, only the standouts are the successful ones. Embrace what makes you special and use it to your advantage. Only after doing this can we create the best version of ourselves.
  5. Practice Self Care: Eating healthily, keeping good hygiene habits, and doing physical activity that we enjoy regularly will effortlessly add up to a positive outlook on life.
  6. Are your peeps positive? Notice the influence of others; it is easy to chime in when people are complaining. Try to be that one voice that says, “hey, things really aren’t all that bad, I’m not going to let that ruin my day.”

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Fashion is nothing without a healthy body to show it off. I hope this article helped you to take control of your health and well being to shine every day in your own beautiful way. ❤