5 Ways to Enjoy Pumpkin

If you have been following my tweets you may well know my recent love for pumpkin. It. Is.Amazing. Certainly satisfies any taste and easy on the blood sugars. A few ideas for pumpkin include:

1.Pumpkin Soup  – First peel an pumpkin, cube and then roast in the oven. Once tender blend together ingredients such as cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut milk, onion, pepper, sea salt and a touch of honey.

2. Pumpkin Porridge – On a Sunday I will roast a whole pumpkin or throw a diced pumpkin in the slow cooker to have on hand during the week. This comes in handy, especially early mornings when I am pinched for time. My pumpkin porridge includes 2 eggs, 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of pumpkin, cinnamon, sea salt pecans/macadamia nuts all mixed together and microwaved in a coffee mug. Viola.

3. Roasted Pumpkin – As simple as it sounds, I reheat pumpkin and add some spice to my liking. Paprika and pumpkin marry well and go nicely with 2 poached eggs or grilled fish.

4. Pumpkin Dessert – I reheat pumpkin again with a concoction of coconut milk or flakes, cocoa nibs and cinnamon. If I have a really bog sweet tooth, I will drizzle some honey on-top.

5. Pumpkin Salad – Pumpkin over some fresh greens, pine nuts and homemade balsamic dressing is an easy and go-to dinner for me this season. The fiber keeps me full and the pine nuts have the perfect taste. If I want a little sweetness to my salad, I will also throw in some raisins.

As you can see pumpkin is so versatile. Do you have a favorite way to eat it? One thing is for sure – while it’s easy to buy pumpkin in a can (especially in the US), it is much better to buy and roast one, eliminating the preservatives and package contamination. Good health, often takes an extra step but is always worth it.

Cheers to you and good health,
Kel

Blood Type – Do I Eat Right?

Do you believe in the idea that we should all eat for our blood type? I think there is some truth to it, but should not be the only thing considered when designing someone’s or your own diet. Most recently I confirmed that I have type O positive blood. According to the literature for a type O positive blood type, I should be doing the following:

  • Avoid gluten containing grains (Check! I avoid gluten like the plague.)
  • Eat dark, leafy greens rich in vitamin K (Check!)
  • Eat lots of animal protein (Check! Bring on the meat.)
  • Restrict legumes and beans (Check! Beans are not the magical fruit.)
  • Restrict cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, mustard green (Ughhh – I love my cauliflower. Perhaps I conduct an n=1 experiment on myself and see how I feel restricting then introducing this vegetable.)
  • Avoid nightshades (I could make a stronger effort here.)
  • Avoid dairy (I go easy on dairy, but again, could make a stronger effort.)
  • Avoid eggs (Oops – I nearly eat these daily. Perhaps I can do another n=1 experiment. I recently did this with nuts, and wow, I am feeling different in a good way.)
  • Restrict heavy consumption of nuts (Check! See above.)
  • Avoid corn (Check! Every so often I will have some corn chips, but avoid corn the best I can; it’s everywhere.)

If my current food intake was graded against these guidelines, I would get, I say, a B. I have a diet clean of gluten and legumes and rich in vegetables but have a few other tweaks to make, if I choose to take this information literally. Overall, it’s something fun to consider. I mean, it is ironic I don’t handle gluten well and apparently this is the norm for someone with type O.

Overall, I am adding nutrigenomics to my lab wish list. Yes, I have a lab wish list. Once I get some true DNA indications, I will take the eat for your blood type to heart (no pun intended). Have you dabbled with nutrigenomics? I predict it is the next big thing for the diet and health industry.

Cheers to you and good health,

Kel

Client FAQ – Rice

I had a question – I saw on your latest post that one of the foods you eat is white rice. I thought brown rice is better for you?

The difference between brown and white rice is minimal but big enough to make a fuss over. On the outside looking in, brown rice’s nutrient profile looks better (fiber, etc) but brown rice more antinutrients, which come from the bran and germ part of the seed.

If you are aware of the process of how white rice is made, the bran and germ is mostly removed, making it a less allergenic food source. According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, approximately 84-99% of the dry weight of brown rice is phytic acid. This is where white rice measures up more in our favor. Bottom line, if you are looking for nutritious food seek out ingredients, produce, protein that are more dense in vitamins and minerals per calorie. Nonetheless, rice can be a good vehicle for healthy fats such as ghee, butter and/or coconut oil and above all, if you do not need the carbs, opt for cauliflower rice.

For more reading on antinutrients, check out a post on Marks Blog by clicking here.

Cheers to you and good health,

Kel

 

See You Later Hypertension

Last fortnight I was asked to participate in an online interview (article originally published on: http://www.bloodpressurecharts.net/kelly-o-connell-interview.html) about natural ways to manage high blood pressure. Not only was this request interesting but it is a topic that needs more coverage. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a silent killer. I hate to be so blunt but there is no way around it – one in four adults (US data) have hypertension. Untreated hypertension can get ugly causing kidney damage, stroke, heart disease, dementia and more. However, with most things related to health, you can turn it around for the better. If hypertension is something you deal with personally, consider the below to incorporate with your daily routine. As always, if you need some help, feel free to contact me.

  • What supplements/foods do you recommend people with high blood pressure try, to help lower their blood pressure?

Before advising someone on what to eat and what to supplement with, I first need to understand if there is anything else going on with their health, such as diabetes, kidney disease, etc. I also want to know what medication they are taking.

Generally speaking though, I advise eating a moderately high protein and fat diet, with moderately low (less than 150 grams per day) carbohydrates. Carbohydrates should be mainly sourced from vegetables, legumes/lentils, tubers and fruit.

Important foods to consider are those rich in potassium (bananas, avocado, herbs, cocoa, nuts, and tomatoes), magnesium (pumpkin, squash, cocoa, nuts, fish), vitamin C (citrus fruits, broccoli, bell peppers, cauliflower, cabbage, celery) and vitamin E (almonds, herbs, olives), omega 3 fatty acids (fatty fish like salmon or sardines) and flavonols (red wine, grapes, cocoa). Do you see a trend? I am a believer in dark chocolate/cocoa nibs and consume cocoa in one shape or another daily.

However, more important than knowing what to eat is knowing foods to cut back on, including foods high in fructose and processed foods (chips, deli meat, bread, pastries, cookies, desserts, etc).

Fructose, simply put, is a type of sugar. It is under a lot of scrutiny causing detrimental things to our health including hypertension. While the jury is still out, there is a true consensus that fructose does more harm than good. The important take away is to know what foods are high in fructose i.e. candies/lollies, cold breakfast cereals, desserts such as ice cream, cake, muffins, salad dressing, breads, pizza,crackers, canned fruit and juices with added sweeteners and more.

My recommended supplements include high-quality fish oil, a strong probiotic, magnesium twice a day, Himalayan sea salt and CoQ10. Food always comes first.

  • What are your thoughts on salt and high blood pressure? Should we be limiting salt intake or is the salt thing all blown out of proportion?

You may be surprised to hear that I do not stress salt restrictions. Processed foods should certainly get more vigilance in this space. I think overall sodium claims are blown out of proportion and certainly, I strongly advise the use of Himalayan sea salt. Overall, individuals need to self-assess how salt makes them feel. If the consumption of salt makes someone retain fluid or make their heart palpitate/speed up, then a reduced salt intake should be implemented. However, I think there are far more important actions to take than demonizing salt. Focus should zero in on stress levels, adequate sleep, exercise, eating whole foods (this does not include whole grains) and maintaining a healthy weight.

  • Not necessarily specific to high blood pressure, but what are your top 5 healthiest foods we should all be trying to eat more of, and why?

Grassfed/free range meat – protein is essential and free range meat, ideally, beef, has an optimal fatty acid ratio, up to 6 times more omega 3’s compared to the grocery store variety. Certainly, omega-3 fatty acids play a vital role in every cell and system in our bodies. Beyond the nutrient profile grassfed/free range beef offers, it is a great tool for optimal health. It is satiating, protective against cancer and cardiovascular disease, has low insulinogenic properties and more.

Coconut – whether it is coconut oil, flour, cream or milk, I welcome it all. I consume this functional food daily, reaping one of the thousands of benefits it offers. In traditional medicine, coconut is used to treat a wide variety of health problems and it is so versatile to use. I make pancakes from coconut flour and milk, I cook with coconut oil, especially with eggs and coconut cream is delicious with berries.

Pumpkin – is loaded with healthy starches and it is absolutely delicious. Pumpkin is nutrient-rich, easy to make and can satisfy a sweet or savory craving. I have learned to cook pumpkin in a variety of fashions from pumpkin soup (with coconut milk and cinnamon), roasted pumpkin salad (with pine nuts, spinach, feta and homemade balsamic dressing) to pumpkin porridge (mixing puree pumpkin with eggs, nuts, and raisins).  Pumpkin can also serve as a dessert by garnishing it with spices and honey.

Free range eggs – they are one of few foods that naturally contain vitamin D and are far superior to caged eggs when it comes to nutrient content. They are rich in vitamin A and E and omega 3 fatty acids, among many other important vitamins and minerals.

Fermented foods – I am all about gut health and a happy gut, makes a good immune system. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, etc provide probiotics to our intestines. There are plenty of benefits to adding probiotics to our bodies, including protection from colon cancerrelief from lactose intolerance and diarrheareduction in cavities, and more. Improved digestion means more nutrients, vitamins, and minerals are absorbed, making you an overall healthier being.

Cheers to you and good health,

Kel
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Food4Thought: Nitrates

At a girls breakfast the other weekend, I was telling one of my friends (who also avoids grains, dairy and legumes) about some awesome bacon I found at the market. We both seek out bacon sourced from free-range pork, but this recent find of mine was free-range and nitrate free (I tastes AMAZING). 

After gushing over this breakfast staple, I failed to consider my friend’s perspective on Nitrates. She did not have a clear understanding of what nitrates are nor what they mean for our health. So allow this post be an opportunity for me to geek out on bacon, I mean nitrates…

What Are Nitrates?

Nitrates are produced for use as fertilizers because of their high solubility and biodegradability. Common forms include: ammonium, sodium, potassium, and calcium salts. In the food supply, nitrates are used to preserve food. They can be found in drinking water, meat and produce (fruit/veg).

What Are Some of the Health Risks in Consuming Foods with Nitrates?

Nitrates have been studied for decades and overall claims have not been substantiated. However, the lack of data does not let me bat an eye at munching away on Nitrates. Nitrates themselves are not know to be harmful but when heated and converted into nitrites, some health risks have been observed:

  • Cancer Risk – nitrites can form into carcinogens when heated. The carcinogens can increase the risk of oral cavity, urinary bladder, esophagus, stomach and brain cancer.
  • Pregnancy Risk – research has shown women who consume large amount of nitrates have a higher risk of nueral defects.  
  • COPD – increase the chance of lung disease.

Kelly, What Do I Do?

I recommend taking this research with a grain of salt. Eating PERFECTLY is not good for you and it is hard to watch for every questionable ingredient in our food supply. However, seek out nitrate/nitrite-free cured meats, shop as closely as you can with the Dirty Dozen guideline in-minds, and continue to eat a variety of foods.

Cheers to you and good health! If you need any help, that is what I am here for.

-Kel

Shop With Reason This Season

I, along with many others, see the importance of shopping locally and since moving to Australia where I have a farmer’s market on my doorstep, I see the benefits of shopping seasonally. The hardest thing to overcome when desiring to shop with the Fall, Winter, Spring, etc is learning what is “in season.” Today’s post includes a cheat sheet for the month of June. I have noted a (*) for the enlisted produce that is also in season in the Northern Hemisphere this month. Overall, July is much more resourceful in the Northern Hemisphere than June. Many of the listed fruits and vegetables are in peak season next month back in the US.

FRUIT – Southern Hemisphere:

Apples, avocados, bananas, cantaloupe, custard apple, grapefruit, honeydew melon, kiwi, lemon, lime, mandarins, pears, oranges, passionfruit, paw paw, and strawberries*.

VEGGIES – Souther Hemisphere:

Artichokes, green beans, bean shoots*, bok choy, broccoli*, brussel sprouts, cabbage*, capsicum, carrots*, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, fennel, leek, lettuce*, mushrooms*, onion*, parsnip*, potatoes, pumpkin, shallots*, silverbeet*, snowpeas, tomatoes, and zucchini*.

I am loving roasted pumpkin right now. It is so satisfying – I throw it in a salad, pair it with chicken or even just mix in some cinnamon and sea salt and call it a day. Pumpkin does not have to be sweet – like my childhood birthday pie around Thanksgiving.

What is your favorite dish this season?

Cheers to you and good health,

Kel

 

Mashed Cauliflower

As of June 1 it turned winter here in Melbourne and with cold weather I am craving comfort food.

Let health remain on the horizon with some out-of-the-box ideas for meals. Mashed cauliflower hit the spot tonight and it was so so easy to make.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped
  • Himalayan sea salt, to taste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon of gluten free soup stock
  • Butter (optional)
Directions:
Boil water and soup paste to a boil and add in the chopped cauliflower. Once all the cauliflower is added, turn temperature down to medium and let cook while stirring occasionally for 25 minutes. You want the cauliflower to get so tender that you can mash it easily with a fork. Strain the cauliflower and toss in a food processor until the consistency you desire. Top with salt and butter (optional).

Cauliflower is a good source of fiber, an excellent source of Vitamin C, a good source of Vitamin K, folate, Vitamin B6 and potassium. Talk about nutrient density mate!

Cheers to you and good health,
Kel

Fast & Easy Paleo Lunches

I have surely been short on time with lots of travel, work, holidays and friends and family visiting us in Australia and in between glasses of wines and nights out on the town, I have become swift in my meal prep. Lately my go-to is tuna. It is such a nutrient-packed protein and insanely convenient. More so, wild tuna packed in 100% olive oil encompasses an ideal macronutrient profile. Below are very basic and satisfying meals I throw together for a packed lunch at work.

If inspired to follow these ideas be sure to read the fine print at the grocery store. So many of the olive oil packed tunas have other messy oils in them such as canola oil or safflower oil. Stay away from the latter oils and seek out the 100% olive oil. If to no avail you can’t find tuna in 100% olive oil, purchase the tuna in water or brine and add a high quality olive oil when prepping your meal.

Cheers to you and good health!

My Hypoglycemia Go-To

As someone with type 1 diabetes and always on the go for work and fitness, I need to be armed with something to deal with low blood sugars (hypoglycemia). My go-to item to have in my hand bag are raisins. They are small enough you can judge just the right amount you need to lift your blood sugar, they are portable, surely last and can sit in your kitchen cabinet for ages.

My new virtual friend, Tracy, at California Raisins emailed last week offering a library of information on raisins and I could not help but eat it up; no pun intended.

Raisins are a staple item on my grocery list and it is nice to know that beyond a natural sweetness enhancer for recipes and snacks that they have many health benefits such as: lowering blood pressure, high in antioxidants, have signficant amounts of potassium, iron and dietary fiber and more.

Raisins fit nicely in most recipes especially casseroles, meats, salads, eggs (yes I said eggs) and trail mixes.

Next trip to the market consider an economical purchase of raisins to brighten a favorite meal.

As clearly mentioned above, raisins pack a healthful punch but all good things should be consumed in moderation.

 

Ringing in the New Year with Paleo Eating

I could guess you have made a resolution or two this year. Am I right? Well this year, among many, I have made a few and I have inspired a hand full of folks to join me on the paleo journey. Hopefully in the next month I can share their experiences on here as though they are case studies. Below I have listed a few resolutions and let me know what yours are or if you are interested in joining the paleo lifestyle for at least 30 days.

Resolutions:

  1. If there was anything I learned from 2011, it is I need to live in the moment and appreciate the smallest of things. I am making a conscious effort to love what is going on in my life at that time.
  2. Strict paleo for 30 days. This would entail what I have been doing minus any desired diet coke, chewing gum, cheese, or gluten free dessert or bread. My co-worker Shanan @shanan_g helped me put the paleo list below for those interested in joining this resolution.

Cheers to you and good health!

PALEO- YES

  • Meats and poultry -important to be free range / or grain fed (skin ON). It is important to eat the whole piece of meat and if tolerable all parts of the animal. The fat in free range and grass fed meat is optimal for our health, improving the omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acid ratio in our bodies.
  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Kangaroo
  • Duck
  • Rabbit
  • Quail
  • Venison
  • Seafood
  • Bacon, biodynamic
  • Eggs (free range + omega3) no limit on how many per week
  • Olives
  • Ham
  • Salami
  • Pickled foods
  • Smoked, dried and salted fish & meat
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil, not heated but used in dressings. When heated at a high temp the fatty acid structures convert and you will lose the health benefits of the oil. Use coconut oil in high heat.
  • Green tea, black tea, any tea and if possible wean yourself from caffeine
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Pecans
  • Pine nuts
  • Pistachios (unsalted)
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Almond milk
  • Coconut milk and cream
  • Almond flour
  • Coconut flour
  • Cocoa powder
  • Dark chocolate, 70% or greater

Best fruits:

  • Avocados
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Lemon
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

Fruits still okay (limit to 1 or less per day):

  • Grapes
  • Passion fruit
  • Pineapple
  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cranberries
  • Figs
  • Grapefruit
  • Honeydew melon
  • Kiwi
  • Lime
  • Lychee
  • Mango
  • Nectarine
  • Orange
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Pomegranate
  • Rhubarb
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon
  • Bananas
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Capsicums
  • Broccoli
  • Courgettes
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cucumber
  • Celery
  • Radish
  • Seaweed
  • Watercress
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Eggplant
  • Asparagus
  • Artichoke
  • Parsnip
  • Broccolini
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Buk Choy

PALEO- NO

  • Canola -do not let this cross your lips or any vegetable/soy oil (found in dressing)
  • Diet sodas/fruit drinks/soft drinks
  • Beer and most spirits. Vodka and tequila are okay.
  • Coffee, okay in moderation
  • Cereal
  • Rice
  • Oats
  • Rye
  • Wheat (bread, rolls, muffins, noodles, crackers, cookies, cake, doughnuts, pancakes, waffles, pasta, tortillas, pizza, pita bread, flat bread, fried foods, bread crumbed food & all processed foods made with wheat or wheat flour)
  • Potatoes
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Peas
  • Miso
  • Peanut butter
  • Peanuts
  • Snowpeas
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Soybeans
  • Kidney beans
  • Mung beans
  • Red beans
  • String beans
  • Tofu
  • All dairy (If dairy is eaten, always eat full fat)
  • Ice cream
  • Cheese
  • Cream
  • Frozen yoghurt
  • Yogurt
  • Powdered milk
  • Ice milk
  • Low-fat milk
  • Whole fat milk/cream
  • Goat cheese better than cow
  • Sausages with preservatives. Non preserved sausages are okay – you can find these at farmer’s markets.
  • Milk, white chocolate
  • Lollies/candies
  • Honey
  • Sugars
  • Sugar substitutes
  • Canned tomato sauce – usually always it is fortified with sugar

Cheers to you this year and to your health!