You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Health and Nutrition’ category.

Have you gone apple picking recently? Or perhaps you’ve just noticed that

grocery stores and farmers’ markets are prominently displaying all kinds
of apples these days. Yes, it’s apple season again!

If you’re looking for new ways to make apples or just a few more good reasons to eat them, you can read up on it in this article I recently wrote for We the Eaters, a blog for food lovers.

It’s not quite Halloween, but grocery store shelves have been exploding with bags and bags of candy since the first day of school. Avoiding candy might be easy for you – but throughout our days we are constantly invited to add sweet treats.

Photo License: CC0 Public Domain

Photo License: CC0 Public Domain

Starting with the sugar-laden morning drinks offered at your favorite cafe – or the snacks people bring in to share at work – or even the glorified candy bars labeled as “high fiber” that we are convinced we need as a post workout snack… We are constantly invited to load up on Sugar in some way, shape or form.

Yes, there are sugar substitutes that many people have turned to because they are lower in calories. These may be good options, especially if you are living with diabetes. The only issue is that once your tongue tastes sweet, your body wants more.

Photo license: CC0 Public Domain

So, in the long run, these sugar substitutes may increase cravings for (and therefore your consumption of) more sugary snacks. Ultimately, though we might avoid calories with one snack, that good deed is often undone by the increased desire for more sugar-coated calories.

In the past I have given workshops on this topic. Now, mostly I work one on one with individuals at Mary’s Center. If you are interested in meeting with me, schedule your appointment at 1-844796-2797.  We can assess your needs and to work out a plan of action!

 

90 percent of the cells on and in your body aren’t actually you – they are the trillions of microscopic bacteria and viruses that make up the human biome. Approximately 100 million (3-13 lbs worth) of these live in your digestive system. Eating fermented foods could improve the quality of those bacteria and in turn help improve digestion, and your body’s immune function.

When you eat lacto-fermented foods you ingest some of the good bacteria contained in those foods. These bacteria help repopulate a healthy microbiome, which can be wiped out by a course of antibiotics, or a diet that’s heavy in refined sugars and fatty meats.

Fermentation was traditionally used as a way of preserving foods. Depending on what you ferment, the bi-product of fermentation will be some kind of bio-preservative that retains nutrients and prevents spoilage.

Whether that preservative is alcohol, lactic acid or acetic acid (Katz, 2003), fermentation will not only preserve nutrients but break them down into more easily digestible forms. For example, milk is hard for a lot of people to digest, but lactobacilli the bacteria that makes its appearance in almost all fermented dairy products transforms lactose into lactic acid, which is much more easily tolerated (Katz, 2003). sauerkraut-574170_1280

Fermented foods help to improve digestion, as it is that microbiome — or that colony of bacteria living within us — that is most responsible for aiding with the absorption of nutrients from food.

You may have made a decision recently because you had a gut instinct about something… well, there is a lot of evidence that the gut really is our second brain. One of the amazing things that gut bacteria does for us is to train the immune system to function properly. It’s that bacteria living in us that helps to identify allergens and other substances that might cause an adverse reaction.

Perhaps now you are curious and asking yourself — what are the best fermented foods and where do I find them? Some popular foods that are easily accessible are kimchi, some brands of yogurt and some brands of sauerkraut. You can easily (and more economically) make many of these kinds of food at home. If you’d like to learn how, please schedule an appointment with me at Mary’s Center (call 1-844-796-2797).

Katz, S.E. (2003). Wild fermentation: The flavor, nutrition and craft of live culture foods. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing.

It’s always surprising to see the places my foods have been! If only plants could write their history…earth-437670_1280

 

This winter, when I shopped for some of my kitchen staples, I paid attention to how far food travels to get to my kitchen. The lemons, garlic, mushrooms, avocado, carrots, celery, canned tomatoes, and assorted frozen berries now in my kitchen are renowned world travelers — visiting my home from Argentina, Chile, Italy, Canada, Guatemala, Mexico, Spain, Turkey, oh and yes, unknown states in the USA.

While I do like to have many of these particular foods on hand for nutritional and gustatory reasons, there are many downsides to this long-distance relationship with the foods I love.

Photo by Lisa Missenda

Photo by Lisa Missenda

First, quality: To be packaged for shipping, many times these vegetables and fruits and picked before they are ripe. This is particularly true of tomatoes. At some point along the route to my table they might be sprayed with a little ethylene gas to make them appear riper. Truth is, in spite of shippers; best efforts, many fruits and vegetables do not continue to ripen once taken off the vine, out of the ground or once they stray too far away from the sun’s reach. So, when they get to my kitchen counter, they may look ripe, but they just don’t have the fresh taste of the ones I can get at the farmers’ market.

Second safety: The more food travels and the more hands it passes to get to my table – the more risk there is of food borne illness. Over the past 10 years the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has rejected numerous shipments of plant foods like green beans and mushrooms due to illegal pesticide violations, excessive filth and unsanitary conditions of the products. Luckily, the FDA is looking out for us.

ingathering-607121_1280

Strawberry Harvest Pixaby photo – Public Domain

Third – labor standards: I am never sure what the working conditions might be in the country of origin. Where children skipping out on an education to work in the fields and harvest my berries? Did a woman give birth in that same field because she was not allowed to take a day off? Where workers exposed to dangerous pesticides and fertilizers that we would not use in the USA?

While ultimately, I would love to be a locovore, eating only foods in my bioregion, I am happy these labels exist; they can be found at almost any grocery store. Consumers and non-profit groups like Food and Water Watch and National Family Farm Coalition fought hard to make the 2008 rule for mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL), for meat, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, and several kinds of nuts. While the law is not perfect, at least I do know more, and have a choice when I reach for lemon and start my day. Learn more about the foods you eat using Food and Water Watch’s interactive shopping cart.

Making bone broth is an ancient tradition going back to 1000 CE; “bru” the Germanic root of the word, means to “prepare by boiling” (McGee, 2007). Today the terms stock and broth are often used interchangeably. Stocks tend to be totally clear, and are used by professional cooks as the foundation for sauces and gravies. Broths are typically a little less clear, and are also used to as the basic ingredient in sauces, and soups.

Image: Bigstock

Image: Bigstock

Professional cooks make the distinction mostly based on appearance (clear or cloudy), but the ways of making each are basically the same. Both broth and stock are made using a long, rolling simmer. While you can see movement in the pot, it is much less movement than a boil. Both stock and broth made from bones contain gelatin, a key ingredient that provides incredible texture, fullness and healing properties.

Another distinction that cooking professionals would make is around seasoning – for them, stocks are denser and have little flavor and broths are more liquid in nature and are seasoned with herbs and spices, which, more often than not, have healing properties.

To learn more attend a workshop on making bone broth at Center Point Healing February 19 at 7 pm.

Many of us have had the experience of suffering through a miserable cold only to be brought back to life by someone’s version of grandma’s chicken soup. Grandmothers all over the world make wonderful soups from scratch, and almost all of them start with bone broth, an often forgotten, not-so-secret-formula for supporting optimal health.

chicken bone broth, photo: Kathy McNeely

chicken bone broth, photo: Kathy McNeely

The bones used to make bone broth are the cartilage-containing joints from feet and necks, as well as the large bones (legs, shoulders, etc) that contain marrow. The cartilage we ingest in bone broth activates natural killer cells and macrophages, some of the first lines of defense in the human immune system. The marrow provides the fatty acids needed for to support brain function, growth and to boost immunity (Fallon Morell, 2014, p. 26). Adding spices to bone broth will also help trigger the release of fluid in the mouth, throat, and lungs, helping to thin respiratory mucus making it easier to expel.

Bone broths are packed with nutrition in the form of amino acids and minerals. One of bone broth’s abundant amino acids, glycine, supports the body’s detoxification processes, and is used to synthesize hemoglobin to build blood and bile salts, needed to digest fats. Another amino acid, proline, promotes good skin health, especially when the body’s vitamin C intake is high. While the marrow and cartilage cook, minerals like calcium, magnesium and phosphate and nutrients like glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are released into the broth. These nutrients help to maintain strong bones and to fight inflammation in the body.

Because bone broth is made with connective tissues laden with collagen, when it cools, it congeals into gelatin (McGee, 2007). While most cooked foods are a little harder to digest than raw foods, gelatin is a liquid-attracting colloid; it facilitates digestion by attracting digestive juices to food in the small intestine. Gelatin is also healing for the digestive tract because it contains glutamine, an amino acid that serves as the preferred fuel for the small intestine.

photo

Gelatin from Chicken bone stock. Photo by Kathy McNeely

In her book, Nourishing Broth, Sally Fallon Morell details a long history of research on the healing properties of gelatin going back to the Napoleonic Wars. This research came to a screeching halt in the mid-1900’s when interest shifted toward individual vitamins and minerals. The shift also coincided with a time in history when commercially produced MSG became much more widespread in packaged bouillon cubes and canned soups.

If you are still not convinced of the value of bone broth, consider this, you can make a gallon of super-nutritious bone broth for as little as $5.00. Traditionally, grandma’s great soup recipe began with a bone broth made from bits and scraps because she never let anything go to waste. She would ask the butcher for feet, knuckles, necks and backs because she knew these extras were inexpensive. She saved chicken and turkey carcasses, from making that big Sunday spread and she spent the better part of a day whipping up a huge batch of bone broth to freeze and reuse as a base ingredient for future sauces, gravies and soups.

Read more about the benefits of bone broth:

Fallon Morell, S. (2014). Nourishing broth: An old-fashioned remedy for the modern world (p. 9). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Fallon Morell, S. (2000). Broth is beautiful. The Weston Price Foundation. Retrieved January 25, 2015: http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/broth-is-beautiful/

McGee, H. (2007). On food and cooking: The science and lore of the kitchen. Scribner. Kindle Edition. (Kindle Locations 3635-3641).

Nourished Kitchen blog (2014). Traditional foods 101: Bone broth, broth & stocks. Retrieved January 25, 2015: http://nourishedkitchen.com/bone-broth/

With Halloween upon us, open season for sugar consumption begins. Though we’re free to eat whatever we want, it turns out that a steady diet of added sugars can have a devastating impact on health and wellness. The first step is always just to recognize how much sugar you’re consuming and one of the easiest ways to do this to to study food labels.

Sugar, by any other name… Sugar (in one form or another) is added to more food products than you can imagine. There are also a large number of “variants” of sugar – depending on the kind of processing that has occurred. Here is a list to get you started in identifying sugars. I’m sure you can come up with many more names for sugar:

Acesulfame-k

Apple Juice concentrate Aspartame

Baker’s sugar

Brown sugar

Corn syrup

Cyclamate

Demerara Sugar

Dextrose

Erythritol

Evaporated Cane Juice

Free Flowing Brown Sugars

Fructose

Galactose

Glucose

Grape Juice Concentrate

High Fructose Corn Syrup

High Maltose Corn syrup

Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate (HSH)

Honey

Invert Sugar

Isomalt

Lactitol

Lactose

Malt

Malittol

Maltodextrin

Mannitol

Maltose

Monatin

Maple syrup

Molasses

Muscovado or Barbados Sugar

Oligofructose

Orange Juice concentrate

Polydextrose

Panocha

Powdered or confectioner’s Rebiana/ Stevia

Rice Syrup

Saccharin

Sortbitol

Sucralose

Sucrose

Sugar (granulated)

Tagatose

Thaumatin

Treacle

Turbinado sugar

Xylitol

 

Books & Articles:

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan. Penguin Books, NY. 2009.

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, Penguin Press, NY 2008.

Website:

The Center for Science in the Public interest devoted a page to explaining what additives go into our foods: Learn more at: http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm#dextrin

So many clients I work with are concerned with the way they look. When these concerns turn into self-loathing, unhealthy lifestyle habits set in and interfere with their ability to live life with abundance.

Singer and songwriter Colbie Caillat expresses this extremely well in her recent video available on You Tube. Take a look:

It should not be such a challenge to like what we see when we look at ourselves. Bottom line is that Photoshop and media outlets around the world continuously present us with a notion of beauty that really does not exist. We don’t have to live up to impossible standards!

Health and Wellness coaching is only one tool to help a person set their own standards for beauty, health and wellbeing. Pass this on if you know someone who has difficulty practicing self-love!

At the risk of sounding like a lyrical jingle from the Minnesota Public Radio show Prairie Home Companion, today’s blog is brought to you by ketchup. Ketchup you ask? If you’ve ever read the ingredients on any of the popular brands you know that most of them contain high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and natural flavoring. These aren’t necessarily the first things you might want to see your kids eat, but almost any kid in this country loves ketchup – and the salty, fried foods that we tend to occupy the space aside the ketchup. Read on for a tip on how to make this popular condiment a better eating experience for your little one.

photo by Lisa Missenda

photo by Lisa Missenda

Read the rest of this entry »

As some of my close friends could attest, up to a year after my return from living in rural Nicaragua, a trip to a supermarket was traumatic for me; I would become catatonic after a simple trip down the breakfast aisle at the local grocery store. There were just so many boxes, so much stuff to read and way too many choices. It took me several years and a lot of research to realize that in spite of all those apparent choices, with most any purchase of cereal, I was handing money over to one of four global food corporations.

According to Food and Water Watch, Kellogg Co., General Mills, PepsiCo and Post Foods control 79.9 percent of cereal sales, making shoppers hard pressed to find a box of cereal that is not owned by one of these big manufacturers. So, guess what? As long as our hard-earned dollars are primarily going to huge food companies, the real “choices” we are left with in the cereal aisle are more about how much sugar, artificial flavorings and pesticides we want to ingest first thing in the morning.

Nutritionally, most of the cereals that populate the breakfast aisles of grocery stores are loaded with highly refined carbohydrates that may satisfy you for a couple of hours, but lack enough grams of protein to get you past 11am. I am a big advocate for a good, high protein breakfasts. Moreover, most cereals are made with corn or wheat, two grains that dominate a nutritionist’s list of common allergens, and the farmers’ lists of crops needing the highest quantities of pesticides. To learn more about the cereals’ typical ingredients, see: Do I know what I’m eating?

I don’t watch a lot of broadcast television – so I have been isolated from most of the marketing that TV-watching-consumers see daily… but I have been taken in by more than one supermarket display…. The displays at the ends of the aisles (I call them end-caps) in supermarkets are highly valued supermarket real estate; these end-cap displays encourage impulse purchases.

Think about it – items offered on end-caps are not lined up with other options – so you as a consumer no longer have the handy capacity to compare prices with similar products. More than once my assumption has been that items displayed on end-caps are sale items and the best deal. According to Food and Water Watch, more than one-sixth of grocery purchases are tied to brand display advertisements, which are typically some of the most expensive items.

When it comes to breakfast don’t be taken in by marketing campaigns sponsored by one of 4 major food industries. Here are some basic rules:

  1. Eat breakfast.
  2. Make sure that protein is featured in your breakfast.
  3. Limit added sugars in your breakfast choices.
  4. Eat breakfast within an hour of waking.
  5. Drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages only after you have “broken your fast” (I always advice to ensure that there is at least some kind of food in your stomach before taking in caffeine).

To find out more about why I give this advice, subscribe to my blog.

Health & Nutrition Counseling

An integrative approach to health and nutrition which includes Earth consciousness.

Archives

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 320 other followers