nutrition

Diet Myth-Busting!

This week we are busting diet myths! First up, it’s…

EAT LESS, WEIGH LESS.”

While that CAN be true in some cases, usually people don’t want to lose weight – they want to lose fat! So, if you are comfortable depriving your body the nutrients it needs, feeling hungry all the time, and losing muscle, water and bone density – then this is the diet for you! In order to maintain muscle and proper body functioning (especially for people involved in strength training several times a week like our Ellipse members!) you need to eat at least a certain number of calories in the proper ratio of protein, fat and carbohydrates.
Now of course if an average person was eating 3,000 calories a day sure, cutting their calorie intake a little will probably help them lose some weight. For most of us however, when we “diet” we tend to cut out entire macronutrient categories (*cough cough* carbohydrates), and slash caloric intake below a baseline level needed to ensure your body doesn’t enter “starvation mode”.

LOW-FAT, LOW-CARB, SUGAR-FREE, DIET, LITE”

These are marketing terms dreamed up in a corporate office to sell cheap (in quality and ingredients, not always in price) products to the incredibly large market of people desperate to lose weight. We’ve discussed the downside to artificial sweeteners in the past, but products with these labels tend to be highly processed, and are often just junk food disguised as a guilt-free indulgence – however, they are anything but. Low or Fat-Free products often have added sugar to make it taste good enough to eat (see the classic example of fat-free frozen yogurt)

EAT SMALLER AMOUNTS FREQUENTLY TO BOOST METABOLISM.”

The truth is the number one way to boost your metabolism is by increasing the amount of muscle you have – that’s about it. Constant digestion has a negligible effect on your metabolism and might even do more harm than good for your teeth and intestines. Eating a healthy snack (think: Veggies and Hummus, Fruit and Greek Yogurt or Peanut Butter, etc) between meals however can help you to stay more satisfied during the day and prevent overeating at meal time.

EATING PROTEIN AND CARBS SEPARATELY AIDS IN WEIGHT LOSS.”

This one is patently UN-true because in fact the best way to ensure efficient digestion of protein is to pair it with a high-fiber carbohydrate. Many of the healthiest protein options come pre-paired with carbohydrates already like beans, nuts, seeds etc.

EATING FAT MAKES YOU FAT!”

This one is very important because many people striving for a healthy diet almost totally abstain from dietary fat, which is to their detriment because many vitamins (A, D, E and K) REQUIRE fat to be absorbed into the body. Also adding small amounts of healthy fat (EVOO, Coconut Oil, etc) to vegetables makes most people much more likely to eat them, and help you feel full! (Think: apple = still hungry vs. apple + peanut butter = energy + satisfaction)

DON’T EAT AFTER 8 PM!”

This might be good advice, but not because late night calories are really any worse than daytime calories. Most of the time late night snacks are our worst ones. High fat, high sugar snacks that don’t actually serve any purpose to sate hunger. Try not to go more than 5 hours without eating during the day to avoid being famished late at night, and try to contain your eating hours roughly within a 12-hour window – that alone might help you save a couple hundred calories per day!

Consider these myths BUSTED

All About Herbs!

Last week we talked about a lot of unusual produce you might find at the Farmers’ Market or grocery store (read here if you missed it!), but herbs are another great item to source from your local market or store. When it comes time to discuss vitamin and mineral content of foods or antioxidant rich sources herbs are often forgotten, but they can be a great source of all three!

Some herbs are perennial, some biennial or annual, but for the most part they tend to offer their best harvest in the summer and early fall. Even with herbs that will survive a snowy winter, it’s important to harvest before the frosts start to settle in. You can extend the life of your herbs by freezing them on the stem or chopping and placing in a bag – or even freezing in ice cube trays with water! Usually it is suggested to make use of them within 2 months, but to extend their freezer life a little try freezing them in olive oil! This ensures preservation of their flavor up to 3 or 4 months and makes them very convenient to use in soups or while sauteing vegetables.

MINT

Mints are incredibly hardy perennial herbs which make them very easy to grow. They spread so willingly, in fact, that many people choose to plant them in a large pot, and then plant that pot in the ground so they don’t take over an area!

Mints have one of the highest antioxidant capacity of any food! Try adding fresh mint to salsas and salads or toss it in your water for a refreshing flavor! You can also steep the leaves for 5 – 6 minutes in hot water for fresh mint tea.

Click here for a fresh Summer Roll recipe containing fresh mint!

OREGANO

Oregano is another perennial that is easy to grow (and split to share with a friend!). It’s known not only for its common use in Italian foods and on pizza, but also for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties! Oil of Oregano is a fantastic natural immune booster when antibiotics are not available or necessary.

Try this different take on classic pesto using oregano and spinach!

BASIL

An annual herb, basil is best harvested by pinching off a few leaves from a few different stems to encourage the plant to fill out vs getting tall and spindly. Traditional basil uses include pesto, marinades, bruschetta, and soups. Basil is another great addition to fresh spring rolls or tossed into a fresh greens salad. Try steeping 3 basil leaves in 1 cup of boiling water to create a tea to relieve an upset stomach or digestion!

Here’s another Summer Roll (*not fried spring roll) recipe to try – so fresh you can even cut out the dipping sauce if you’re concerned about the extra calories!

CILANTRO

This annual herb is often confused as a perennial because it reseeds so easily. Cilantro, in addition to being abundant with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, is also known to combat heavy metal toxicity in the body and aid in digestion. Unfortunately however, about 15% of the population has a gene that causes them to detect aldehyde chemicals which are found in both cilantro and soap. If you find that you fall into this group and you dislike cilantro, swap out parsley in any of your favorite recipes that include cilantro. Those in Wisconsin will even find, with the heavy frosts, cilantro can sprout up on it’s own from the prior season. When growing, the green leaves can be harvested as cilantro. Let it flower and go to seed and you have grown spicy coriander seeds! Cilantro is used in many Mexican or Asian dishes such as guacamole, salsa, and cilantro lime rice.

DILL

Like Cilantro, dill reseeds easily, but is a biennial since a plant will only live two years. Toss seeds just about anywhere, and you’ll have fresh dill available readily for years to come. Dill tastes great in fresh in salads, greens, and as flavoring for roasted or grilled vegetables!

Click here for grilled carrots with lemon and dill!

There are many, many herbs out there worth mentioning, but some easy perennials that have a wide variety of uses are Rosemary, Thyme and Sage! Plant all kinds of herbs and try using something brand new to you – your tastebuds will thank you!

Ad-veggie-venture! (Conquering Mysterious Produce)

Gardens are overflowing and the Farmer’s Markets are full of produce, ready to fill your vitamin and mineral needs! I’m sure we all snagged up the strawberries over the last couple of weeks. Maybe you got some early lettuce or beans…but what about all those mystery fruits and veggies?? We all see unknown produce and simply pass on by without giving it a second thought. The next time you see something unfamiliar, buy it! Make it a mission to learn 1 or 2 ways to use it. You will probably like it, AND you’ll have something new to incorporate into your regular meal/snack rotations to keep it from getting boring. As an added bonus, you will introduce your body to vitamins and minerals that you may not currently be getting! Let’s get started:

Yu Choy (yow – choy)

Go past any Asian stand at a farmer’s market and you’ll likely find Yu Choy. This Chinese green is most identifiable by their yellow flowers, which are edible! Yu Choy (or rapeseed) are primarily grown to produce canola oil, but also have a sweet taste that make it perfect to sautée, stir-fry or add to soups. Yu Choy’s flavor is a sort of cross between spinach and mustard greens. Grab a pound of Yu Choy, stir fry in some oil and garlic and then steam in ¼ cup of chicken broth for about 3-3.5 minutes until the stems are softened. Say Nǐ hǎo to something new!

Kohlrabi (cole – RAW – be)

In German “Kohl” means cabbage and “Rabi” means turnip; this green or purple bulb like vegetable is commonly eaten in German speaking areas and in Vietnam. However, it is slowly becoming more mainstream here in the U.S. The bulb can have the green skin cut off (knife or vegetable peeler) and the inside, sliced or cut into sticks and served alone or with a dip like hummus. It has a nice, crisp taste with a slight cabbage flavor. Some may be surprised to learn that the greens on the top of kohlrabi can be used like kale or collard greens. Look for smaller size bulbs to ensure they are not “woody” as often found in the larger grown vegetable. Use kohlrabi in other ways too, such as pureed in soups, roasted, or steamed. Any time you get a veggie where you can eat the root and the greens you’ve got a bargain!

Golden Beets

You might have noticed we’ve included a few root vegetables in this post, in large part because unless it is a carrot or potato most people tend to steer clear of this category. What a shame! Because the roots are generally the major source of absorption for vitamins and nutrients from the soil, these veggies (beets, rutabagas, ginger, etc) pack a big nutritional punch! Geosmin, a compound produced by microbes in the soil, is what gives beets their earthy taste and seem to polarize so many into beet lovers or beet haters, but even beet haters may be pleasantly surprised by the flavor of golden beets! These golden beauties have been described to taste like sweet corn when cooked, and are well-known for their high fiber, potassium, iron, and folic acid. One bonus is they don’t “bleed red” and stain your clothes or teeth. Beets also have the highest sugar content of any vegetable, which is why they can be found in some desserts (like beet brownies!). Beets can be enjoyed roasted, poached, or boiled.

Jicama (HE – ka – ma)

Although you won’t find jicama grown locally as it needs 9 months frost free, you can generally find it in most supermarkets. It’s traditionally grown in Mexico and South America. Also known as a Mexican turnip, Jicama is in the legume family and the brown, bulbous root vegetable we are used to seeing is just that – a tuberous root at the bottom of a large vining plant. Jicama is most commonly enjoyed raw and tastes like a savory apple, a crunchy, juicy, and slightly sweet snack. Just cut the skin off (it’s too thick for a vegetable peeler) and cut into sticks or slices. Other ways to enjoy jicama are stir-fry (like water chestnuts), julienned into spring rolls, and even diced into salsa or a coleslaw!

Fennel (FEN – null)

Fennel is crunchy and slightly sweet – closely related to parsley, carrots, and dill. It is fully edible, from its bulb to the leaves, and has high concentrations of phytonutrients which make it an antioxidant powerhouse. Fennel has been repeatedly studied for its ability to reduce inflammation and fight cancer. Many associate the taste to black licorice, however if black licorice isn’t your thing, when the bulb is chopped and sautéed (many like it sautéed with onion) or braised, that licorice-type taste almost fully dissolves into a complementary side dish primarily for fish or other seafood. The stalks can be used in soup and the leaves can be used as an herb. Search pinterest or google some recipes and give it a shot!

Venture into the Farmers’ Market or grocery store with a little extra confidence this week, and proudly request some new produce with the correct pronunciation and a sense of accomplishment! When it comes to diet, one particular principles with regards to exercise is extremely applicable: if you are bored, you won’t stick with it very long. Explore new fruits and veggies to boost your vitamins and minerals, make your meals more enjoyable, and wow your friends and family!

Until next time…Happy Harvesting!

Slooooowww Down

We’re a rushed, distracted, and “too-busy” society. Most people in North America eat fast. Really fast. We rarely take the time to savor our food… or sometimes even to chew it properly.

^^It’s gross isn’t it??^^

You almost can’t look away…don’t be like Homer!

Each time we consume food we are using all five of our senses. We taste and smell the food, hear the crunch, feel the texture, and see the food. Try sitting down to eat in a calm environment with minimal distractions to truly enjoy all the five senses, and get more satisfaction out of eating! Taking time to prepare your food and make it look presentable will help you to enjoy it. Add fruits, veggies, and spices to add a colorful “pop” to your meals!

Did you know it takes a full 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your mind (and mouth for that matter) that you are satisfied? Try spending at least 20-30 minutes eating each meal, and see what a difference it can make! Slowing down is an effective – and maybe the easiest – way to reduce caloric intake at a meal.

Eating slowly offers many benefits:
• Better digestion
• Better hydration
• Easier weight loss or maintenance
• Greater satisfaction with our meals

Digestion is a process made up of many equally important steps that prepare the body to break down everything you put into it to use for energy. Smelling, tasting, chewing, moving the food around, chewing some more, swallowing, chemical and mechanical break down in the gut… When we eat and chew slowly, we allow our brain and body to properly digest the food. Food that is not properly chewed, or eaten too fast can lead to GI problems as well as indigestion. To practice chewing slower, choose high-fiber foods that take more time to chew such as fresh fruits and vegetables. The act of chewing even helps your brain to feel more full – this is why shakes and smoothies can leave you hungry even when they have the same calories as a meal!

Now, we all know that awful feeling of eating way too much and feeling like a balloon. Eating slowly helps us avoid this “inflated” feeling, and gives the brain time to process satisfaction. One research study out of the University of Rhode Island done on women who ate lunch quickly vs women who ate lunch slowly showed those who ate quickly consumed 646 calories in 9 minutes while the women who ate slowly consumed 579 in 29 minutes! That’s 67 calories less in 20 additional minutes – you can see how weight gain can happen if this is happening for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! For weight-loss or more consistent maintenance, try aiming to stop eating when you are only 80% full. Don’t continue eating until about 20 minutes have passed. Then if you are still hungry eat a little more, but if you are not – then don’t.

Here’s a simple strategy to slow down: Count how many bites you take in a minute. The next time you eat, try cutting that number in half. At a minimum, you will be more conscious of your speed.

Check out these other shocking study findings about just how much MORE food we consume when we eat quickly!

Super Kale! To The Rescue!

Kale is a popular superfood – maybe the most popular one around – with its high fiber, iron, vitamin A & K, calcium and antioxidant content. Pound for pound (or gram for gram), kale has twice the amount of vitamin C as an orange and more calcium than milk! Got Kale? It has become a pretty notorious scapegoat for social media mockery:

Haters gonna hate…

If you haven’t grown to love it yet, we’re here to give you a few innovative ideas to give it another try or to shake up your kale standards!

START SIMPLE: Add some kale to your smoothie for a quick nutritious boost! It’s flavor won’t overpower fruit-based smoothies, and it blends well for a leafy vegetable.

SUPER KALE DRESSING: A salad may truly only be as good as its dressing! The somewhat bitter flavor of kale can be curbed by purchasing young/earlier harvested kale from your local Farmers’ Market, OR consider complementing that bitter flavor with some sweet!

– 2 c of your favorite fruit (raspberries are a great choice)
– 2 Tbsp. Dijon or Tahini
– 1-2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
– 1-2 Tbsp. maple syrup
– 1 Tbsp. of a fresh herb like thyme or rosemary.

SUPER KALE CHIPS: Cut the thick stems off your kale and tear into bits. Rinse, then run through a salad spinner to dry thoroughly. Rub olive oil and salt in, spreading the leaves over a cookie sheet. Bake 10-15 minute at 350 degrees or until the edges are brown but not burnt. Get creative with different seasonings like Cajun or Chili Powder!

SUPER KALE PESTO: Mix up the flavor profile of your Pesto by swapping the basil out for kale!

– Pour 1 c of olive oil into a food processor
– Add 3 cloves of garlic
– Add 12 cups of chopped kale leaves until blended.
– Stir in 1 cup of pine nuts, 1 cup parmesan, and salt to taste.

**For added veggie goodness, serve over zucchini noodles!

SUPER KALE SOUP: Consider adding roughly chopped kale into soup for texture and flavor! Much like the use of endives in Italian Wedding Soup, Kale is a great complement in broth-based or even cream-based soups! Kale can be purchased in bulk, tossed in a freezer bag, and then simply crumbled into your bowl!

SUPER KALE TACOS: Few social media trends are more prolific than the mockery of healthy eating habits, but the insatiable craze over Tacos may have the upper hand! Hurdle your hesitation on this one and try out this delicious recipe below from Cookie and Kate!

and yes…I know tacos and burritos are not quite the same thing 😉

http://cookieandkate.com/2012/simple-kale-and-black-bean-burritos/

Party Pepper Salad

This vegetarian salad takes about 15 minutes to prepare and an hour to chill.  It is a crowd pleaser that even makes kids happy!  This recipe was originally posted By Amy Roskelley on Super Healthy Kids, and we think adults will love it too!

The Ingredients

  • 6 bell peppers, chopped ( a mix of orange, red, green, and yellow.
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 avocados, pitted, peeled and chopped.
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese

The Dressing

  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp water
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • dash of black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp thyme, dried
  • 1/8 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp salt

The Instructions

  1. Combine all the vegetables in a very large bowl.
  2. Combine the dressing separately, and pour over vegetables.
  3. Allow dressing to marinate your vegetables in the fridge as long as you choose.
  4. Top with feta cheese

Photo & Recipe Cred: Super Healthy Kids

Mango Guacamole? Yes, please!

Grilling at the neighbors house?  Graduation party coming up? Need a show stopper for a 4th of July barbecue?  Make this mango guac.  Guaranteed to leave you with an empty dish and requests for the recipe.  Here’s what you need:

2 Fresh Mangos

3 Ripe Avocados

The Juice of 1 Lime

1 Seeded and Ribbed Serrano or Jalapeno Pepper

One Bunch of Fresh Chopped Cilantro (discard the stems of course)

Salt and Garlic to taste

Mix together. Serve chunky with chicken or corn chips. Enjoy!

Hack Your Summer with these Cool Tricks

Are you ready for fun in the sun??

But really, are you ready for all that comes along with that? The beautiful weather lures us out in the heat, but lurking everywhere all Summer long are cold, sugary temptations like ice-cream and popsicles! And spending all that extra time out in the sun is sure to affect your hydration – which as we’ve learned in the past has drastic implications for our health and fitness goals.

But fear not! We have some great tricks you can use this Summer to keep you cool, well hydrated and most importantly satisfied all Summer long without boosting your sugar intake.

Protein-Packed Coconut Popsicles

Few things are more satisfying than an ice cold popsicle on a hot, dry day! Boost your protein and energy with this delicious alternative to popsicles containing all kinds of additives, preservatives etc. It’s super simple!

– Blend 2 Scoops of Bio-Whey with 1 Can Full Fat Coconut Milk
– Pour into popsicle molds and serve frozen

Frozen Grapes

Hands down one of the easiest ways to cool down with a delicious treat is to freeze your grapes! Wash beforehand and pat dry so they don’t all clump together. Put in the freezer and enjoy them straight out of the icebox! Or if you want a slushier texture let them thaw a couple of minutes before eating.

Protein Packed Yogurt

Greek Yogurt is another great way to keep cool, and you can boost the flavor and nutrition by mixing in a scoop of Bio-Whey and 1-2 tsp of water to thin a little. 37 grams of protein come packed into this combo!

Stay Well Hydrated

Like the glue that holds together all of your sound nutrition choices, hydration is essential for ensuring your body is working properly and handling the nutrients you are giving it in an effective way! If the taste of water just doesn’t do it for you, consider flavoring it with some citrus! And if carrying a lemon around with you is not really your thing…maybe try something like True Lemon. True Lemon contains no artificial sweeteners, real fruit flavor, and no preservatives; their new crystallized citrus comes in lemon, lime, grapefruit and orange flavor.

Tired of the ice melting in your water bottle within moments of stepping outside into the hot sun? Fill it half full and freeze your bottle over night lying on it’s side. That way when you fill it up the long, vertical ice cube will keep your water refreshingly cold much longer!

Now, no Summer post would be complete without a suggestion for the grill, so save time and flavor up that boring chicken! Before freezing your chicken, toss in your marinade! As the chicken thaws it will be soaking up the tasty flavors. Try lime juice, soy sauce, and ginger OR a lemon juiced w/ zest, garlic, olive oil, thyme, and salt/pepper.
https://www.noshtastic.com/grilled-paleo-lemon-chicken-thyme/

Mighty Micros!

Mighty Mighty Microgreens!

Did you know that Microgreens contain many times the nutrient density of their mature-harvested counterparts? These things pack a nutritional punch! (see USDA article here)

Microgreens are vegetables and herbs harvested when their first set of true leaves sprout. These things pack a lot of flavor, nutrients and vitamins into a small package! Often they are confused with sprouts, so let’s break down the difference:

Microgreens
– Harvested after first true leaves (not cotyledon) sprout – when plants are about 2 inches tall
– Harvest time: 1 – 3 weeks
– Grown in soil and in the sunshine (where plants get most of their nutrients from)

Sprouts
– Harvested during the sprouting phase
– Harvest time: 2 – 3 days
– Grown in water and in the dark

While sprouts are also considered a healthy food source, microgreens are far superior when it comes to nutrient and fiber content. Leafy microgreens for instance are a significant source of beta-carotene, iron and calcium, and dark leafy microgreens (kale, chard, etc) are high in antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which have been shown to reduce the risk of chronic eye disease and cataracts. Microgreens are very easy to grow, so get yourself some seeds and get started!
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No matter what the season, microgreens can be grown near a sunny window year-round. Snow pea shoots, red beets, purple and green basil, pak choi, cilantro, parsley and mesclun mix germinate and grow to microgreen size in about two weeks. (Susan Smith-Durisek/Lexington Herald-Leader/MCT via Getty Images)

Growing microgreens requires little space and time – unlike a traditional garden. Some good options for seeds to use are: Basil, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Chard, Cilantro, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Mustard, Parsley, Peas, Radishes and Spinach!

1. Poke a few holes in the bottom of a plastic tub for drainage (see: spinach or mushroom container for instance).

2. Fill the container with 1 – 2 inches of light seedling soil and smooth it out to be even – but not compacted. (Being that we are growing microgreens for a nutrient rich food source, be sure of the quality and safety of your soil! Choose high-quality, organic soil whenever possible)

3. Sprinkle seeds so they almost cover the soil for a dense planting, and then sprinkle a light covering of soil over the seeds and pat gently

4. Water with a spray bottle to avoid dislodging seeds (a plastic cover can help keep moisture in)

5. Keep in a dark, warm area of the house until seeds start to sprout and then transfer to a sunny windowsill until ready to harvest

It really is that easy! Try it out and see for yourself!

Building Blocks: 2 Ingredient Recipes

Hey Fit Family!

The road to Health is paved with good intentions…

The best way to develop clean eating habits for the long term is to start with BASIC ingredients that you recognize!
__________
Love Pizza?
Don’t deny yourself the things you love! Try this simple recipe that cuts out loads of unsavory ingredients in take out pizza:

1 C of Plain Greek Yogurt
1.5 C of Self-Rising Flour

Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes. Create your pizza shape and top with choice ingredients. Bake at 500 degrees 10-12 minutes.
__________
Pudding the right way?

Soak 2 TBSP of Chia Seeds in 1 C Almond Milk for at least 10 minutes. Make it smooth by blending or sweeter by adding a little honey. An Omega-3 and Protein rich snack!
__________
Banancakes!

Blend 1 Ripe Banana with 2 eggs until slightly frothy. Batter will be thin. Play around with toppings or roll them up with Greek Yogurt and Fruit!

and let’s be honest, pancakes are awesome – so here’s another recipe to try!

Blend 1 Ripe Banana with 1 C of Oats for thicker, more filling pancakes.
__________
Chicken + Salsa

Layer 3 – 4 Chicken Breasts in a slow cooker with a jar of salsa on top. Cook on low for 4+ hours and you’ve got ready to serve chicken for tacos or over rice, Mexican chicken salad, or get creative with your own idea!
__________
Homemade Snack Bars

In a food processor (an essential kitchen tool to make clean eating easier!) pulse together 1 part Dates and 1 part Oats. Combine until they are the consistency of jam (add just a little bit of hot water if too dry). Press the mixture into a 1/2″ deep pan and freeze for 1 – 2 hours.

Cut it into bars for a super-quick whole food snack for energy on the go!
__________

Until next time, remember to keep it simple at first! Nothing derails your best-laid intentions faster than jumping into the deep end before you know how to swim! Build up your repertoire one simple recipe at a time.