Quick & Wholesome Dinner Ideas

  1. Meatballs & Veggies using kale or shaved Brussel sprouts as a base. I often opt for legume noodles for my kids. How do I make this quick + easy? I throw a bag of Beetnik grass-fed meatballs in a slow cooker w/ a jar of sugar-free marinara sauce. I allow this to cook for 6-8 hours.
  2. Chicken Tacos. While the slow-cooker is out, make some tacos the following night. Add frozen (or fresh) chicken breast or tenderloins to a slow-cooker on high, allow to cook for 6-8 hours with a jar of salsa. My go-to? Salsa verde. We love our chicken tacos w/ a purple cabbage leaf for the “taco shell,” black beans and some sour cream or guac.
  3. Salmon Burgers + Roasted Veg. If my hubs is home, I’ll have him fire up the grill to make the wild salmon Kirkland burgers (look for any salmon burgers that are made with wild, not farmed, salmon), but if he isn’t, to save time, I bake 4-6 burgers in my toaster oven. Leftovers are a blessing. I also make multiple trays of veg on the weekend, like the pic above, which happens to be 100% from my garden. I use ample amounts of avocado oil, cook at 350F for 30 minutes and douse the vegetables in the Unami spice from Trader Joe’s.

Soup Season

How to Pick out a Good Soup?

It comes down to being savvy with scanning the label and ingredient list. Bypass the claims and labels on the front of a product,, many of them are meaningless and are there to lure you into buying it. 

  • Seek a product with real food ingredients and avoid soups that have chemicals as the preservatives. 
  • Avoid soups that host common allergens and fillers like corn, maltodextrin, sugar, gluten, and soy. 
  • Boxed soups are sometimes better than the canned versions. Canned soups can come with toxins due to the packaging. Another option includes frozen soups. 
  • Choose broth and vegetable-based soups
  • Always have soup on hand. It’s a great resource when you are pinched for time or options when pulling a meal together. 
  • Don’t assume that organic soup is better than it’s the conventional counterpart. Review the ingredient list, opt for one higher in fiber and protein and lower in total carbohydrates. 

Favorite Brand:

Soup Formula: use this template when making a homemade soup

  • 1 carton bone broth, 3 vegetables, different colors (ex: cabbage, carrots, and broccoli), meat (ground meat, chicken breast, canned seafood) + spices, garlic, onion. Cook this on high for 4-6 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours (this is an option for when you turn it on in the AM and go to work). 
    • Lemon juice, thyme, s/p, bay leaf, cayenne
    • Or – lime juice, fish sauce, cayenne, form of soy sauce (tamari) and ginger. 

Upgrading soup:

  • Add in non-flavored collagen to hover around the goal of 25 grams of protein, supporting blood sugar control and weight loss. 
  • Add in your own bone broth. I will often do this, splitting a carton of soup, like lentil or split pea soup, mixing in 1 part bone broth to one part lentil soup. 
  • Slice and dice additional vegetables to add in, adding texture, fiber, and nutrients. 
  • Buy some fresh herbs to toss in once heated to enhance the flavor and comfort of the meal. 
  • Pair the soup with grain-free crackers to add crunch to your meal, a flax muffin or a small salad.

The Beginner’s Guide To Cooking Up A Healthier Diet

In 2019, healthy eating is the rage and it’s easier than ever to learn about healthy eating.

However, if this is new to you, no worries. The path to a healthier diet involves educating yourself and being willing to make important lifestyle changes. Start your journey to wellness with this beginner’s guide to cooking up a healthier diet.

Get to know what you should be eating

A big problem many people have with healthy eating is that it is loosely defined. Many people’s idea of ‘dieting’ means eating salads, but the truth is that there are a lot of foods you can eat without having to starve yourself.

Healthy eating means giving your body and brain the right amount of nutrients. Nutrients give your body energy, help it to repair itself, as well keep it strong. Finding a balance and not overeating can make a big difference to your health. Keeping your weight at a healthy level is important, as obesity can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and more. Figure out how many calories you should eat each day to give you a soft target to aim for and understand how much fuel your body runs on (although all calories are not created equal (eat real food) and our hormones dictate how many calories we burn).

Pledge to eat more veggies

Vegetables are an important part of your diet, but it’s surprising how many people don’t eat enough of them. Vegetables are nutrient-powerhouses, low in calories and provide you with the vitamins/minerals you need to ward off illness. By making fruit and vegetables a key part of your diet, you can benefit from the natural goodness that nature has to offer.

Fill your kitchen with fresh, healthy ingredients

One reason why many people don’t cook for themselves is that it’s easier to choose convenience foods and take out than it is to cook. Could you make much with the ingredients in your cupboard or refrigerator? It’s time to turn that around!

Start filling your kitchen with some basic healthy ingredients. When you’ve got these things to hand, you’ll be able to prepare a number of nutritious dishes. These will not only help you eat healthier, but could save you money too! It might feel like a big expenditure at first, but you’ll find that many of these ingredients will last a long time, changing the way you cook for the better.

Learn to cook

‘I can’t cook’ or ‘I’m a bad cook’ are phrases that many people use an excuse for eating poorly and not cooking for themselves. And it’s no surprise with that attitude! Cooking is mainly following instructions and takes some practice. If you’re unsure of different cooking techniques, you can always get some help through YouTube or my online course and book.

The easiest way to start with cooking healthier is to browse healthy recipes and working out what’s manageable for you to cook. Start off with some simple dishes, repeat the ones you like and gradually add new ones to your repertoire. Every successful dish is another motivator to keep trying new things, and you could soon find yourself with a passion for cooking.

Cook for friends and family

Cooking can be a fantastic way to socialize with your friends and family, It’s also a good way to eat healthier than if you were to meet at a restaurant, for example. Cooking for others gives you the chance to show off your skills and could teach them a thing or two as well. If you have kids and want to get them interested in healthy eating, cooking together as a family can be a fantastic way to teach them how to cook as well as get everyone to share the load.

Get excited about cooking

Being able to cook new and exciting dishes can help you get enthusiastic about cooking. You could invest in a cookery book and work your way through it, or set yourself a theme to follow each day?

A fantastic gift to give yourself is a foodie subscription box. There’s a large choice of monthly subscription boxes that cover everything from special ingredients to recipe boxes. A subscription box could help you to try new dishes and learn to prepare quick and easy healthy treats, making healthy eating exciting and fun.

Learn how to make healthier versions of your favorites

We all enjoy a bit of comfort food now and then, but that doesn’t have to mean jumping back into unhealthy eating habits. By substituting some ingredients, you can make healthy versions of your favorite foods and still enjoy those warming comforts. Make some extra to keep in the freezer to save for those nights where you’re too tired to cook!

Practice food prepping

Food prepping is a tip used by many people to eat healthier. By planning your meals and prepping in advance, you’ll be less likely to succumb to convenience foods and be able to eat food that’s much healthier and homemade. Spend time each week coming up with meal ideas and dedicate some time on a Sunday to prepping your food. This is actually an excellent time-saver, helping you batch cook some dinners, make lunch for the kids and get some healthy snacks together. Make sure you’ve got plenty of food containers and space in the refrigerator/freezer to make it work.

A healthier diet will leave you feeling great inside and out, as well as help you enjoy a healthier future. Could your diet use an overhaul? Start making those changes today.

Holiday-Proof Your Health

Choose well this holiday season, by choosing you.

Health is precious, which also includes feeling good, day in and day out, so protect it.

  1. Drink water – divide your weight by 2, and drink this calculated number in ounces.
  2. Don’t sacrifice sleep. Aim for 8+ hours a night. We need more sleep in the winter. Can you tell?
  3. Journal daily. Jot down your feelings and a list of gratitude. 
  4. Track habits, not your calories.
  5. Remember food is fuel by honoring physical hunger. Emotional hunger feels real but is for a very specific thing/craving and comes on strong. Real hunger is a quieter sensation and much more manageable. Do you let yourself feel real hunger?

If you want to dig deeper, let’s touch on the hard stuff…

Mindset
  • Goals around this time of year are to either lose weight or maintain weight. You must step back and realistically evaluate what makes sense for you. Once you make that decision, commit to a plan (and below will help you with that).
  • Empowerment and affirmations – can you count on yourself? Even if you feel like you cannot, fake it until you make. Choose an affirmation to repeat to yourself daily, to turn this thinking around. “Of anyone in the world, I can count on myself.”
  • Your best tool to ground yourself, to improve your health, mindset, even sleep, is a blank notebook/journal. If you struggle with this, invest in the “5 Minute Journal.” There is even a version of this for kids. You can make this a family affair.
  • Collect any data you need to get to know yourself better and collect facts that will help keep you motivated – I highly recommend taking the Gretchen Rubin quiz to uncover your tendencies in adopting new habits, do a finger prick food sensitivity test (I offer a test from KBMO Diagnostics), journal your food to see if you have episodes of mindless eating, weigh/measure your body, use tape measurements weekly (if you have a hard time separating the number on the scale to your worth). You are worthy. 
  • Understand your mind and your demons. How do you talk to yourself? Do you have any internal beliefs that you are not enough, unfit, incapable, etc. Understand where these thoughts have come from (perhaps childhood). Next, separate these voices and beliefs from yourself, yet embrace them at the same time. These voices are part of us and will be around forever. View these voices as a much younger, child-like version of yourself, that needs parented and advised to view the situation in a more mature way. These voices/beliefs can be viewed as benign, but just like holding a piece of paper, it’s not heavy. Yet, if we hold a piece of paper for days and years, it weighs a lot.  Don’t sweep these voices under the rug, and learn to not dull the feelings from them with food. 
  • Find a way to self-soothe that isn’t food. Around the holidays we are exposed to a lot of good and stressful emotions. When we learn to feel our feelings and create an outlet for them, we practice self-care.
  • Learn and then use the Thought Model (below) – to gain confidence in reaching any goal you have, health-related or not.
Thought Model – 5 Steps – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 
  1. The Circumstance – facts of what happened (not boss yelled at me. Boss told me I was doing a bad job). This is neutral facts.
  2. Thoughts. Step back and think about what you’re thinking. Do a thought download or on paper or phone/computer. Understand the buzz in your head. Let it out. Do this for 5 minutes straight; you will surprise yourself what all you try to cover up. Do it on whatever topic you want. About your job, about your weight, about your child, whatever is consuming you.
  3. Emotions – a situation creates thoughts, thoughts fuel emotions.
  4. Actions – emotions lead to actions. Our thoughts create our results. 
  5. Results – if we thought differently about something, we’d feel differently, we’d make ideal actions and get the results we want. Let me paint your. Few examples below.

Examples:

  • Circumstance (facts) – I have a body, a business and I am alive
  • Thought – I’m plugging through, good enough
  • Feeling  – Unmotivated, resignation
  • Action – I’ll continue doing the same thing
  • Result – No growth in my life or health, and business is stagnant

 

  • Circumstance –  I have a body, a business and I am alive
  • IMPROVED Thought – Just a little more (compassion, effort, awareness, pushing myself past my comfort zone).
  • Feeling  – Empowered, purpose, motivated
  • Action – Step up workouts, craft a plan, look at ways to improve/grow business, more attention to nutrition
  • Result – Moving everything to the next level, I am stronger physically and mentally, I am more confident

There is never a time when you are not responsible for how you feel. It is not what happens to you, it is what you believe about what happens to you that causes your feelings.

  • Circumstance (fact) – The picture of my body in the mirror
  • Thought – I am disgusted 
  • Feeling – Depressed, disgust, disconnection, shame
  • Action – Squeeze into clothes that are too tight because I refuse to buy a bigger size, mentally beat myself up, go and eat a bunch of processed foods.
  • Result – Continue to gain weight, feel uncomfortable in my clothes, emotional pain/suffering

 

  • Circumstance –The picture of my body in the mirror
    IMPROVED Thought – This is my body
  • Feeling – Awareness, neutral feeling, curious
  • Action – Find clothes that fit and flatter my current body, keep working towards my goals
  • Result – Clothes I feel good in, less emotional pain, wanting from a place that feels good

The best way I often find to change my thoughts is asking myself good questions. Ex: What if losing weight was easy? What would I do? What if being diabetic was easier or more fun? How would it be? Our brain will seek solutions and we will gain empowerment.

Recipe: Real Food Fried Apples 

 

These are delicious and do not require any additional sugar as the natural sweetness from the apples is enough. This is a great alternative to more decadent desserts, such as apple pie, but far more forgiving on health. Lower in sugar, lower impact in spiking blood glucose levels, more favorable on gut health, energy levels and wellness goals.

Peel, slice and core the apples, while a medium skillet is being heated to medium heat.

Add all the ingredients to the pan, while stirring frequently for 5-7 minutes, all depending on your texture preference. Serves 2; ~15g of carbohydrates and 175 calories.

Options: you can chop the apples in bite-size pieces and you can also add Pascha 100% cocoa chocolate chips at the end or even cocoa nibs.

Foods to Fight Cancer

Taking charge of our health is one of the best things we can do for ourselves, including preventing cancer. Aim to be your best person, by choosing the best foods for your body. Looking at cancer prevention specifically, eat/drink more of these nutrient-rich foods.

Folate – a B vitamin, helps reduce the risk of colon, rectum and breast cancer. However, don’t mistake this naturally occurring vitamin for folic acid. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate. Where should one seek out this nutrient? Check out strawberries, melons, asparagus, pasture-raised eggs, liver, sunflower seeds and leafy greens, to name a few. You may see people tout the benefits of fortified cereals and grains, however, I do not advise these foods. They can indeed deplete your nutrient stores due to phytates and other anti-nutrients. Make it a simple choice, choose food in it’s natural form.

Lycopene – I say tomato, you say tomato…load up my friends, and if the tomato product is heated (i.e. tomato sauce or paste), the lycopene may be more bio-available aka better to absorb.

Hydrate – and I am not talking about drinking sweet beverages or sodas. I am looking at the power of tea. Change up the variety you consume too. With the weather getting warmer, brew up some tea, allow it to cool and pour over some ice. Benefits come from the typical green tea to the herbal kind. Here are some of my favorite flavors. 

Spice – spice up your plate, palate and entree with spices. Specifically turmeric. Yet, dried and fresh herbs are loaded with antioxidants. Don’t be shy to spice up your plate.

Berries – these are my fruit of choice for myself and recommendation for clients. They are packed with health and research even shows the deactivation of certain cancer substances and slowing the growth of cancer.

Overall, aim to eat real, whole food. The story doesn’t change and you are left with nothing but positives. Whole, real food provide vitamins, minerals, water, fiber, all helping you avoid unwanted gene expression (cancer). One more pointer, enjoy foods of all colors. Diversify your plate starting with your grocery list.

Cheers to you and good health,

Kelly

Do You Know What’s in Season Right Now?

Back in the day, we could all probably answer this question within seconds, but with recent technology, communication and travel advances, our food is making it to our neighborhood grocery store, from around the world. So who knows if I would naturally be eating bing cherries right now? One way to tell, is of course, whip out a Google search, but also really pay attention to the food you are eating. For example, last month my typical lunch was a lettuce wrap of some sort, and when I made grassfed beef patties, I craved onion and tomato. How did my tomato taste and look? Guess. It was dull in color and nearly tasteless. Why? Tomatoes are provided year round but not at their peak. Before I run out and do my Sunday errands, I am gathering a grocery list and docking a few “seasonal” produce items on my list, so I can thoroughly enjoy the flavors of the season. Please note this list was pulled for the Illinois  Midwest area. If you live in another region, click here.

For April/May:

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli (one of my favorites!)
  • Cabbage
  • Cherries
  • Cucumbers (I love cucumber and tahini sauce)
  • Greens
  • Herbs (I rotate the type of herbs I buy each week. They can dress up any meal)
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Onion
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Rhubarb
  • Spinach
  • Sprouts
  • Squash
  • Strawberries

Come June, I can enjoy some luscious tomatoes!

Cheers to you and good health, Kel

 

 

 

 

Bone Broth Health Perks

When you make soup or have a recipe that calls for broth/stock, do you have a homemade version tucked away in your freezer, or do you always resort to the grocery store carton/can? When skimming a bone broth recipe you will see bones (from chicken, cattle, duck, bison, fish) and any type of vegetable/herbs (celery, carrots, onions, garlic).

Most recently, I have made the change to make and consume bone broth to enrich my health. How?

  • Homemade bone broths are richer in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (especially calcium, magnesium and phosphorous, which are essential for bone health).  Most importantly, bone broth is also particularly rich in two very special amino acids: proline and glycine.
    • Proline and glycine support our connective tissue and act as glue in our body’s; or contribute to how we stick together. Glycine also has a strong role in digestive health and the nervous system. So when you are feeling ill, chicken soup may not only be a placebo, but traditionally made soup can really nourish and repair you. Proline can also reverse atherosclerosis, aka heart disease. Proline helps relax our vessels and loosen the build-up of cholesterol.
  • Homemade bone broths contain bone marrow, cartilage, and gelatin. Have I lost you yet? Don’t go anywhere, because this is worth knowing. All of the above help repair bone health along with our digestive tract. Strong, healthy digestion can make or break our health. A few gastro incidents may seem minor but the food is broken down there, and transferred to our cells, making our health what it is. If your digestion is sensitive, bone broth can be the perfect super food for you.
  • Traditional Chinese paradigm touts bone broth nourishes our kidneys, adrenals, teeth, supports our vital essence (chi), and builds blood. Environmental, physical and emotional put all of the above at risk.

Chicken Bone Broth Recipe:

  • Carcass from two chickens
  • 2 medium yellow onions, halved
  • 2 cups of carrots, organic, washed and cut in half
  • 8 celery stalks, washed and cut into thirds
  • 8 cloves of garlic (whole)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp sea salt/Himalayan salt
  • 1-gallon cold water (or at least cover the ingredients)

Directions:

  1. Place chicken carcasses, vegetables, garlic, and bay leaves into a big stock pot. 
  2. Fill with enough water to just cover the ingredients.
  3. Cover and bring to a boil on top of the stove, then turn down the heat to keep a simmer for 6 hours, stirring every half hour.
  4. Let the stock simmer with lid off for the last hour.
  5. Strain all the ingredients and use as the base for stews, soups or on it’s own.

 

Food4Thought: Food Politics

When deciding what to eat, please consider this:

“If the members of the American Medical establishment were to have a collective find-yourself-naked-in-Times-Square-nightmare, this might be it. They spend 30 years ridiculing Robert Atkins…accusing the Manhattan doctor of quackery and fraud  only to discover that the unrepentant Atkins was right all along. Or maybe it’s this: They find that their very own dietary recommendations-eat less fat and more carbohydrate-are the cause of the rampaging epidemic of obesity in America. Or, just possibly this: They find out both of the above are true.”

Gary Taubes
“What If It’s Been a Big Fat Lie”
NY Times Magazine, July 7, 2002

I care about your health.

Cheers, Kel

5 Foods To Live Off Of

If the challenge was put before me – what 5 foods would I choose to live off of for the rest of my life? Do I choose purely by health; well that actually doesn’t limit me too much. The foods that I think are most nutritious are actually to me the most delicious. So this is what I am thinking:

Coconut – I could turn this into coconut oil, flakes, cream, water! The list goes on. Am I cheating? Fair enough though, a single coconut can be amended to all the things noted above meanwhile serving a nice helping of fiber, medium chain triglycerides, lauric acid, energy and more. Overall, coconut has so many health benefits including weight loss my friends. One study out of the Journal of Nutrition suggests that we can expend more calories digesting medium-chain triglycerides (coconut) than digesting long-chain fatty acids (found in almonds, avocados, olive oil).

Pumpkin – I love pumpkin year round. I roast it, I make soup out of it, I scramble eggs into it, I put it on salads, I spice it up with cinnamon, nuts and/or dates, I eat it plain or if I am feeling indulgent I will mix roasted pumpkin with either grassfed butter (savory) or drizzle some dark chocolate morsels over it. Pumpkin is so delicious and I really favor it’s texture/mouth feel. Pumpkin is packed with nutrients, it is versatile and economical. I should be a sales rep for pumpkin, eh? Please note, pumpkin in a can is not what I am preaching here. I buy the green pumpkin (Japanese) and make it fresh every time. More often than not, I make such a large batch and freeze a portion of it.

Macadamia Nuts – I have always liked nuts, but macadamia nuts get their own category. The first time I had fresh, and I mean fresh macadamia nuts in Australia, I thought heaven exploded in my mouth. I could taste the fresh juices (oil) as I was chewing them and it was unforgettable  Macadamia nuts are good with just about anything. I like them in my salad, on their own, as dessert with some fruit or dark chocolate and more. I have even put them in my eggs (when I cook eggs with fresh berries). Have you ever had macadamia nut butter? I make my own and it’s scrumptious. Going back to how I put macadamia nuts in their own category – it is not only because they are tasty but also because they are the least inflammatory of all nuts, with the best fatty acid ratio in comparison to almonds, walnuts, etc. Macadamia nuts are high in fat and protein and therefore serve as a good snack option (if you can control the amount). However, we all have to remember too much of a good thing, just is not good.

Beef or pork?!! Pork – This is really a tie. I like meat and always buy the grassfed, pastured raised sources. Both pork and beef are so good for us and really make us thrive, especially when we eat non-traditional cuts and homemade bone broths. But getting down to how I choose between the two, pork is a little more versatile. If I were to live off one of these meats for the rest of my life, I want to enjoy something that can be grilled to something that can be made in skillet (bacon!).

Eggs – An egg yolk a day will keep the doctor away as far as I am concerned. This is also factoring in the type of egg – free range, cage free, organic eggs are the best. Eggs contain fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K as well as carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. They also contain calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin, folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. Did I mention eggs are delicious. I start most mornings with 2 Paleo Infused Breakfast muffins or 2 poached eggs.

Oh no – are you getting worried that I am eating too many eggs because of cholesterol? Well, let me explain something as fast as I can. Elevated serum levels of cholesterol is a symptom of an underlining problem, not the cause of the problem. The underlining problem is oftentimes inflammation at the artery level. Cholesterol is present because it was sent to the artery to help/heal the inflammation. When inflammation doesn’t subside, more cholesterol is sent to the problematic area and starts to accumulate around the artery as a band aid. At this point plaque can start to build up and you have “high cholesterol.” So long story short, dietary cholesterol is not the worry. If you want to know more about cholesterol and what foods should be demonized please read, Good Calories, Bad Calories, by Gary Taubes. So bottom line, cholesterol is sent to treat a problem, not to cause it.

If I was allowed a bonus food, I add Wild Salmon!

**Wild Salmon – High quality protein with a nutritious offering of fat. Salmon is tasty whether it is smoked, raw, steamed or grilled. I will be picky too. I will not accept farmed-salmon. It’s like comparing a fresh beet to beets from a can, soaked in syrup.

Aww man – how did I not get dark chocolate in this list? I guess we have to pick and choose.

Here are what a few of my followers had to say (and when I raised the question, I limited it to 3):

Amy Gonsalves Avocados for sure!

Carly Smith coffee, grassfed beef for sure!

Mark Braceros Bacon, bacon and bacon.

Jon Boyd I would go eggs, pork and apples

Cynthia Zuber Eggs, almonds and apples

Anthony Rees Bacon, eggs, beef

Michelle McCartan Eggs, berries, salmon

@LowCarbRD – salmon, avocado, kale. Wish I could have 5 — would add almond butter and bell peppers 🙂

What 5 foods would you live off of?