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You’ve been good at sticking to your diet and physical activity plan all year, and you have the results to show it — congratulations!

Now you stare at your calendar and see all the holiday dinners and parties that are scheduled and you start to break out in a cold sweat. How are you going to resist those delectable sweet potato pies, cranberry creations and gravy-slathered mashed potatoes? How are you going to get by without eating holiday cookies, or drinking that famous holiday cocktail your uncle (substitute your uncle’s name here) makes?

The shorter days and colder weather invite us to hibernate and take it easy, but our calendars are screaming a totally different message. Your inner introvert is crushed as you put on your winter coat and summon the energy for yet another party!

bigstock-Lazy-Turkey-Watching-Tv-2298130

bigstock-Lazy-Turkey-Watching-Tv-2298130

Or perhaps it’s just that cabin fever that sets in as your brother (insert name here) fires up yet another football game and you’re in for a long couch-sit complete with nachos and kettle corn.

I know you’re not feeling the stress of holiday shopping as you hear that holiday music frenetically reminding you that you have not even started thinking about the holidays BECAUSE IT’S STILL EARLY NOVEMBER!

Whatever your holiday challenges are — perhaps you are wondering whether there exists a way to break the cycle? Are you looking for a way to face the holidays with a new kind of energy — one that doesn’t wear you down or add inches to your waistline?

Here’s one for you. It’s really easy, and it’s something your body usually takes care of for you… it’s called breathing. That’s right, as you read this – take a deep breath. Don’t hold it. Just slowly fill your belly with air. REPEAT. Do you feel your shoulders un-hunching, and your heart beating just a little slower? Remember, you always have this strategy with you as you face the winter holidays.

Taming the stress that holidays bring is one way of keeping yourself healthy this holiday season. Explore more strategies with me by attending my holiday strategy workshops either at Center Point Healing November 19 at 7:30 pm and at Joes’s Movement Emporium on November 22 at 2pm.

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This fall I am thrilled to be offering workshops in my neighborhood of Mt. Rainier, MD. I would love for you to come out and see me and to get to know Joe’s Movement Emporium, a vibrant resource for people who love to art as much as they like to move!

For each event listed below, the suggested donation is $10.

Please pre-register at www.joesmovement.org, or click on each of the links to reserve your spot!

CC0 Public Domain

CC0 Public Domain

BREAKING UP WITH SUGAR Thursday, October 8th at 7 pm. Designed for people who have been told to cut the salt from their diets! 60-minute workshop on the role of salt in the body, that covers of the reasons why doctors often recommend a reduced salt diet with certain health conditions. Workshop will cover new science on salt as well as action steps individuals can take if they are interested in reducing their salt intake.

SALT: FRIEND OR FOE? Sunday, October 18th at 2 pm. Designed for people who have been told to cut the salt from their diets! 60-minute workshop on the role of salt in the body, that covers of the reasons why doctors often recommend a reduced salt diet with certain health conditions. Workshop will cover new science on salt as well as action steps individuals can take if they are interested in reducing their salt intake.

APPLE SEASON COOKING DEMONSTRATION Thursday, October 29th at 7 pm.  Participants will become acquainted with the nutritional benefits of apples, they will learn what to look for when choosing apples, how to store them and how to cook with them. Participants will also participate in making and sampling a sugarless apple snack, a green apple smoothie and an easy-to-make apple-squash soup. All easy-to-follow recipes will be shared with participants so they can make these dishes at home.

SPICES, FLAVORS AND FLAVORING Thursday, November 12, at 7 pm. Designed for people who want to cut down on salt and add more spice to their meals but do not know where to start! What role do spices play in our life? How are they aligned to our sense of taste? 50-minute workshop on how to use spices with some basics on how to get the flavors you’ve tasted at restaurants in the dishes you cook at home.

HEALTH STRATEGIES FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON Sunday, November 22nd at 2 pm.  Designed for people who feel that their best health goals are completely undone by the 5 weeks of holiday parties that happen between Thanksgiving and the end of the year. Participants will receive a number of strategies and work to formulate their own plans for staying on track during the holiday season.

THE SKINNY ON FATS  Sunday, December 6th at 2 pm.  Confused about the “new science on fat?” Can I eat fats now, or are they still dangerous to my health? Participants will learn about the sources of fat in the diet as well as the difference between saturated, unsaturated and trans fats, and which are the fats that are to be avoided. Participants will recognize the different names for fats, the benefits of some essential fatty acids for optimal health and will receive concrete recommendations on how to cook and store their oils to prevent them from spoiling.

Use this link, Hearty Nutrition Line up, to download a PDF of all the upcoming events at Joe’s Movement Emporium.

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.

Avoiding sugar takes some willpower, but honestly, almost everyone I know who has gone cold turkey to eliminate sugar says that once they get through the first 2-3 days, their taste for sugar decreases and they don’t really look for it any more.

Whether you’re ready to kick the sugar habit or just want understand more about it, I invite you to join me at one of these two upcoming sugar workshops to find out all the names for sugar that may hide in popular products, to get tips on reducing cravings and to find ways to live without it.

Thursday, October 8 at 7 pm at Joe’s Movement Emporium in Mt. Rainer, MD. Click here for registration and details.

Monday, November 2 at 7:30 pm at Center Point Healing in College Park, MD. Details and registration will be posted soon – I will post the links when they are available!

If you don’t live in the DC Metropolitan area and are interested in either of these workshops, or on working on your own relationship with sugar, contact me to schedule a 30 minute phone or Skype call to assess your needs and to work out a plan of action!

As the seasons change it’s always a good time to hit the “reset button” on our diets.

Summer’s barbecues, picnics and county fairs (and the food choices they offer) give way to more hearty foods like apples, squashes, deep greens and sweet potatoes – all ripe and delicious just as autumn leaves begin to display their showy colors. 

Join me on September 24 and October 1 to prepare and carry out a 7-day detox to treat your body to an opportunity to release toxins and to ready itself for a new season!  Details and registration form follow. Please reserve your space before September 17!

INVITATION

 Register today for the 7-day detox: 

Once you fill in this form, I will be in touch with you regarding payment and how to prepare for our first meeting on Thursday, September 24 at 7:30 pm. 

Center Point healing, where I have been seeing clients for the past 2 years, has just moved from Hyattsville to College Park!

We are now located at 7309 Baltimore Avenue, Suite 119, College Park, Maryland 20740.

The new space is much larger and will accommodate more practitioners offering acupuncture, Chinese herbs, massage and nutrition counseling, AND the new digs will have a classroom for all of us to offer workshops and ongoing classes.

Stay tuned for upcoming classes and stop by to take a look!

 

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.

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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.

You may have heard that all of us with a human tongue can distinguish five basic tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami. The last of these, umami, was discovered at the turn of the 20th century by a Japanese chemist, Kikunea Ikeda argued that this flavor was distinct from the four already recognized and accepted flavors (sweet, sour, bitter, salty). Scientists debated for several years whether humans had specific taste receptors for umami, and finally it was confirmed in the mid-1980s.

Ikeda identified this full, meaty and brothy flavor coming from Kombu, a seaweed that the Japanese often use in soups. He also identified that the natural compound glutamate salt is responsible for this flavor. Shortly after his discovery, the Japanese company, Ajinomoto began to make and export monosodium glutamate (MSG) chemically derived from wheat gluten (McKee, 2007).

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Chicken bone broth. Photo: Kathy McNeely

Today, people who know that they react poorly to eating gluten avoid bouillon cubes and broth because wheat gluten is often an ingredient from which MSG is made. Others avoid it because they suffer from “Chinese restaurant syndrome;” and experience sensations of burning, pressure, and chest pain after beginning a Chinese meal with MSG-laden soup (McGee, 2007). Scribner. In addition to the health reasons for avoiding MSG, consumers today have lost a flavor-packed nutritional treasure by embracing quick and easy broths and soups. In his book, On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, Harold McKee writes: “The most unfortunate aspect of the MSG saga is how it has been exploited to provide a cheap, one-dimensional substitute for real and remarkable foods.”

Not only is MSG a health hazard for people with MSG sensitivities; it also represents a short-cut around a time-tested method of cooking good, nutritious food. Lost are the ingredients of a fabulous bone broth: the gelatin, amino acids and minerals that are released when bones are rolled on a simmer for several hours, as well as the minerals and phytochemicals the animal ingested by eating grass or other vegetation. All these elements that served to protect and support the health of the animal are passed on to the person when s/he ingests home-made bone broth. Try getting that out of a can, carton or bouillon cube!

Interested in learning more? Join us on Thursday, Feburary 19 at 7pm

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 from: 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 from: http://nourishedkitchen.com/bone-broth/

Wikipedia (2015). Umami. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; Wikipedia®; Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Retrieved January 26, 2015 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umami

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 »

July – absolutely the best time of year to source fresh, ripe, locally grown tomatoes. Farmers’ markets all around the metro DC area carry some really fabulous heirloom varieties. Here’s what to look for, and then how to store it and use it when you get home!

Look for red and ripe tomatoes. Lycopene, the star antioxidant available in tomatoes has a higher concentration when tomatoes are red and ripe.

Tomatoes should be FIRM, but yield to a little pressure; it is best to avoid tomatoes with bruises, cracks and a puffy appearance (Murray, et al., 2005).

Shy away from green: If the seeds of the tomatoes or any of the insides are green, than the tomato was most likely picked green and treated with ethylene gas to hasten its ripening. This is especially true for “vine-ripened” varieties that are priced higher than other conventionally grown tomatoes.

SMALL: There is more lycopene and vitamin C in tomato skins, therefore cherry and plum tomatoes are more nutritious and often taste sweeter than other varieties (Robinson, 2013).

ORGANIC: A ten-year study revealed that under the same climate conditions, organic tomatoes contained increased levels of the antioxidants, quercetin and kaempferol than conventionally grown tomatoes (Mitchell, et al., 2007). Choosing organic will also reduce consumer exposure to organophosphates, insecticides that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified as acutely toxic to bees, wildlife and humans.

Or if you want to skip the fresh tomato and go straight for the salsa or sauce… Tomato products are great because processed tomatoes are more bio-available than raw tomatoes, pastes and sauces are a good choice if one is looking to increase dietary antioxidant intake.

When buying tomato products, consider the packaging. U.S. products follow more strict packaging regulations related to exposure to toxic metals, and plastic-lined cans which may release bisphenol A (BPA). This hormone disrupter more actively leaches into acidic foods like tomatoes. It is much safer to buy tomato products packed in glass jars or Tetra packs (Murray, et al., 2005 and Robinson, 2013).

References:

Environmental Protection Agency website: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/about/intheworks/clothianidin-registration-status.html#basic Gartner, C., Stahl, W., and Sies H. (1997). Lycopene is more bioavailable from tomato paste than from fresh tomatoes. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 66(1), 116-122.
House, P. (n.d.). Top 10 Foods Highest in Lycopene. http://www.Health.Alicious.Ness.com, Web. 03 Jan. 2014.
McGee, H. (2004). On food and cooking: The science and lore of the kitchen (Revised). Scribner: New York, NY.
Mitchell, A.E., Hong, Y., Koh, E., Barrett, D.M., Bryant, D.E., Denison, R.F., and Kaffka, S., (2007). Ten-year comparison of the influence of organic and conventional crop management practices on the content of flavonoids in tomatoes. Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry 55, 6154-6159.
Murray, M. Pizzorno, J., and Pizzorno, L. (2005). The encyclopedia of healing foods. Atria Books: New York, NY.
Robinson, J. (2013). Eating on the wild side: The missing link to optimum health. Little, Brown and Company: New York, NY.

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July is typically when tomatoes ripen in northern climates. Farmers’ markets are heavily stocked with delicious ripe tomatoes in all types of heirloom varieties. The flavors offered in local fresh tomatoes are a giant leap from what you might find on supermarket shelves because tomatoes are one of many vegetables that taste much better when they are locally sourced or locally grown. Tomatoes also have healing power – especially when you convert them into a delicious sauce, salsa or juice.

photo by Lisa Missenda

photo by Lisa Missenda

The medicinal power of tomatoes is primarily attributed to their lycopene content. A red-colored plant nutrient from the carotenoid family, lycopene is one of the most efficient antioxidants; it prevents disease by scavenging and neutralizing free radicals before they can damage cellular structures (Murray, et al., 2005). To a lesser degree, tomatoes also contain beta-carotene, vitamin C, biotin, vitamin K and the flavonols, quercetin and kaempferol (Mitchell, et al., 2004 and Murray, et al., 2005).

Although other foods contain lycopene, tomatoes are the most popular source of lycopene in the U.S. diet, so tomatoes and tomato products are widely studied especially for their cancer-fighting potential. Most notably, a 22-year Harvard study showed a 21 percent decreased risk in prostate cancer in men who consumed 6.5 mg of dietary lycopene daily as compared to those consuming less (Murray, et al., 2005).

Other sources of lycopene include:

Tomato juice

1⁄2 cup

8,250 mcg*

Tomato, raw

3⁄4 cup

3,000 mcg

Guava, raw

1 medium

5,500 mcg

Watermelon, raw

3⁄4 cup

4,000 mcg

Guava juice

1⁄2 cup

3,500 mcg

Pink Grapefruit

Half

3,500 mcg

Rose hips puree

3/4 cup

800 mcg

Apricots, dried

3⁄4 cup

900 mcg

Papaya, fresh

3⁄4 cup

1828 mcg

Red cabbage, raw

3⁄4 cup

20 mcg

* stands for micrograms, also noted as μg; most phytonutrients are needed in small quantities measured in micro and milligrams. (Wildman, 2006, p. 57 & House, n.d.)

In terms of bioavailability, for the body to fully use tomato’s star nutrient, lycopene, it must be released from the food matrix, that is, all the components of the food and their molecular and chemical relationships to one another. As a carotenoid, lycopene’s chemical structure dictates that it can be released for the body’s use in the presence of fat and when the fiber content of the food is low. Therefore, processed tomato products (tomato juice, tomato paste, etc.) ingested with fat are better sources of bio-available lycopene than fresh tomatoes served with no fat (Gartner et al., 1997 & Brown, 2004).

That’s another reason why canning tomatoes and homemade tomato sauces is a great summer activity! You take advantage of local farmers’  fresh, ripe tomatoes, and then add them to make a super nutritious meal on a wintry day.

References:

Brown, M. J., Ferruzzi, M.G., Nguyen, M.L., Cooper, D.A., Eldridge, A.L., Schwartz, S.J., and White, W.S. (2004). Carotenoid bioavailability is higher from salads ingested with full-fat than with fat-reduced salad dressings as measured with electrochemical detection. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 80, 396–403.
Gartner, C., Stahl, W., and Sies H. (1997). Lycopene is more bioavailable from tomato paste than from fresh tomatoes. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 66(1), 116-122.
House, P. (n.d.). Top 10 Foods Highest in Lycopene. http://www.Health.Alicious.Ness.com, Web. 03 Jan. 2014.
McGee, H. (2004). On food and cooking: The science and lore of the kitchen (Revised). Scribner: New York, NY.
Mitchell, A.E., Hong, Y., Koh, E., Barrett, D.M., Bryant, D.E., Denison, R.F., and Kaffka, S., (2007). Ten-year comparison of the influence of organic and conventional crop management practices on the content of flavonoids in tomatoes. Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry 55, 6154-6159.
Murray, M. Pizzorno, J., and Pizzorno, L. (2005). The encyclopedia of healing foods. Atria Books: New York, NY.
Robinson, J. (2013). Eating on the wild side: The missing link to optimum health. Little, Brown and Company: New York, NY.
Wildman, R.E.C. (2006). Handbook of nutraceuticals and functional foods (2nd ed.). CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL. Google eBook.

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