TIPS TO KEEP YOU HEALTHY OVER CHRISTMAS two

Know the power of PROTEIN!

Healthy tip #2 is regarding the stuff that’s main job is to repair your body…..delicious protein! At this time of year there tends to be a lot of visiting and eating going on, and it frequently include a LOT of carbohydrates, especially starchy ones like delicious baked goods, potato and squash dishes…..and the beloved stuffing! Let’s not forget the desserts, chocolate and hot apple cider! All of these festive treats break down to sugar quite quickly. I can see how easy it is to consume a lot of these though, they are all quite delicious!  By adding protein you are bringing a bit of balance to your meals, and repair to your insides. Protein also helps slow down the digestion process, which will help you feel full longer. Your options are endless….turkey, beef, eggs, yogurt and tofu to just list a few. Make sure your meals are complete by adding one of these.

TIPS TO KEEP YOU HEALTHY OVER CHRISTMAS one

You are what you….DRINK!

Healthy tip #1 is regarding the beverages you are consuming! Start your day with a tall glass of water, as soon as your feet touch the ground. We often are dehydrated upon waking, so to nip this in the bud right off the hop…..start sipping on some good ol’ H2O! You can add lemon or lime to add a burst of flavour!

When we get busy with our day we often forget to drink enough water, as we often opt for coffee, tea, pop, eggnog, or in the case of the holidays…..alcohol. Remember that water is the #1 BEST beverage for you. All the others contain caffeine, chemicals, sugar, artificial sweeteners and alcohol. All of these are fine in small amounts, but water is pure and calorie free. Consuming it as herbal tea is also an option. How do you know if you have consumed enough? A general guide is take how much you weigh in pounds, divide that in half, and drink that amount in ounces. And remember, your urine should be pale yellow and odour-free…..another easy indicator you can use.

The Salty Side of Things

Salt, so much more than the box in your Oma’s cupboard! Not only that, it comes in various forms now too. How do you know which one is best? Which ones are for cooking? And, which ones have benefits outside of the realm of food?

 

Everyone is familiar with table salt. Most will be familiar with sea salt, and a number of you will have heard of Himalayan salt. All of these are options to flavour food, create a scrub or to gargle with warm water to aid a sore throat.

 

The added bonus of sea and Himalayan salts is they have not been treated and cleaned to the level that table salt has. In the process of making table salt, all the minerals aside from sodium and chloride are stripped from the salt, and as well, it is bleached and refined to look like it does as it comes out of its box. Since 1924, table salt has had iodine added to it as a preventative of iodine deficiency, which is a known cause of hypothyroidism.

 

Salt is often perceived as unhealthy, especially in large amounts, because it can bind water in the bloodstream and raise blood pressure. The daily recommended intake of sodium for Canadians is 2300 mg. This equates to approximately a single teaspoon amount. A very high percentage of sodium found in the Standard American diet comes from processed foods, so be mindful. You may not be adding it to your food, but eating a lot of processed and packaged foods will already contain it. If you make sure the majority of your foods are wholesome, homemade and unprocessed you should have no problems with taking in too much sodium.

 

Sea salt is made by evaporating sea water. It too is mostly sodium and chloride. One thing we need to remember however, is the oceans have become quite polluted so sea salt can also contain trace amount of pollutants, such as lead. Sea salt is often less ground than table salt so therefore provides a more granular texture and more flavour, and can contain small amounts of minerals.

 

Himalayan salt is harvested in Pakistan. It contains small amounts of calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium, and lower amounts of sodium than regular salt. Some will notice a difference, as the flavour is often a bit milder. The main difference is noted in the colour. The pink hew that you see is a from the trace amount of iron oxide.

 

There appears to be no scientific evidence that shows Himalayan salt provides more health benefits in comparison to either table or sea salt. It does however, contain several minerals, though the doses are small and therefore some believe it is unlikely to bring any notable health benefits.

 

Both sea salt and Himalayan salts are wonderful for a nice soak, regardless of what part of your body is soaking in it!  Feet, hands, or all of you! Epsom salt as well is a great option. Here’s a fun fact….epsom salt isn’t actually salt at all! It’s a mineral found in water that contains high levels of magnesium and sulfate, which is what is primarily made up of. Any of these above options create a wonderful relaxing at-home spa experience. They will help draw out toxins, cleanse the skin and most importantly, help you relax. Add some essential oils or bubbles to have a wonderfully scent filled experience! Not much beats a hot soak with a good book and a glass of your favourite beverage to sip on! Self-care at its best!

5 Strategies to avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Tis the season of cheer and good will towards men! But with beckoning desserts and snacks around every corner, it’s easy for healthy eating habits to get lost in the shuffle. Pair that with cooling temps and hectic holiday schedules, and exercise plans often take a hit, too. However, it’s possible to survive the holidays with your wellness intact.

1 START YOUR DAY WITH PROTEIN
We recommend eating a protein-rich breakfast. Add in some complex carbohydrates, and you’ve got a match made in heaven. This approach will help you feel full longer, stave off unhealthy snacking and give you more energy to outlast the day. You’ll be pumped to exercise and feel satiated enough to just say “no” to holiday sweets.  OKAY OKAY…. maybe not NO… how about just a few less holiday sweets???

2 FIND EXERCISE IN EVERYDAY ACTIVITIES
If you don’t have time to hit the gym for a workout, look for creative ways to work exercise into your everyday activities. Choose the farthest parking spot away from the store when holiday shopping, that walk is not just for avoiding door dings….  Even common chores can make a dent in your calorie count. A person who weighs 155 pounds can burn around 140 calories raking leaves for 30 minutes. The movement and resistance help tone all the major muscle groups. Cleaning windows for 30 minutes burns around 90 calories. The key is to keep moving and avoid a sedentary lifestyle.

3 Be Selective, Not Rigid
Don’t declare all party food off-limits. It’s a strategy that’s bound to backfire. If you decide to deprive yourself of all treats, you may end up overindulging out of frustration and rebellion. Instead, be honest with yourself about which foods you’re really looking forward to, and enjoy those in moderate amounts. At the same time, cut back on unhealthy snacks and fillers you really can live without.

4 SET GOALS
Instead of making the New Year the starting point of future fitness goals, consider it a mile marker. Perhaps you have a favorite outfit you’d like to don on New Year’s Eve — this can be one of many effective motivators. “Write your goals down, share them with a buddy, review the goals often and implement a plan that will get you to that goal by the deadline,” suggests fitness and exercise specialist Kelli Calabrese. Make sure your goals are realistic and that you have a plan for achieving them. With a strategy in place and a buddy to be accountable to, your fitness plan through the holidays can be very effective. You just have to follow it.

5 BE MINDFUL
Remember why you don’t want to overindulge on sweets and fall behind on workout schedules. That piece of apple pie with ice cream might be calling your name now, but are you going to feel the wrath of the sugar crash later? Come New Year’s Eve, are you going to feel sluggish from skipped workouts and unhealthy eating? Try to stay focused during the holidays so that you don’t lose track of your end goal. When faced with a sweet temptation, pay attention to hunger cues. Ask yourself if you are really hungry or if you’re just being lured by a momentary delight. When you’re tempted to sit on the couch in front of the TV instead of putting in time at the gym, remember how accomplished and great you’ll feel when your workout is done.

A GUIDE TO B VITAMINS

A Guide to the B Vitamins

 

This family of vitamins is made up of eight separate B vitamins. Although they are usually recognized as a group, and often work together in the body, each separate B vitamin performs its own unique and important functions. To help better understand each of the B vitamins, I have broken them down individually to explain each one’s value.
Thiamin, also known as vitamin B1, is needed to help produce cellular energy from the foods you eat, and also supports normal nervous system function. Some of the best sources of B1 coming from lentils, whole grains and pork, but can also be found in red meats, yeast, nuts, sunflower seeds, peas, milk, cauliflower, spinach and legumes.

Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, supports cellular energy production, and is found in a variety of foods such as fortified cereals, milk, eggs, salmon, beef, spinach and broccoli.

 

Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, also supports cellular energy production. When in the form of nicotinic acid, it helps support cardiovascular health. Food sources of niacin include beef, poultry and fish as well as whole wheat bread, peanuts and lentils.

 

Pantothenic Acid, also known as vitamin B5, as well supports cellular energy production.  It is widely available in plant and animal food sources such as organ meats (liver, kidney), egg yolk, whole grains, avocados, cashew nuts, peanuts, lentils, soybeans, brown rice, broccoli, and milk.

 

Pyridoxine, also known as vitamin B6, is involved in over 100 cellular reactions throughout the body, vitamin B6 is instrumental in keeping various bodily functions operating at their best. It is also needed to metabolize amino acids and glycogen (the body’s stored form of glucose), and is necessary for normal nervous system function and red blood cell formation.  It also supports adrenal function. Vitamin B6 is usually abundant in the diet and can be found in foods such as meat, poultry, eggs, bananas, fish, fortified cereal grains and cooked spinach.
Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, supports carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism. Biotin may also help support healthy hair, skin and nails. It is commonly found in foods such as brewer’s yeast, strawberries, organ meat, cheese and soybeans.

 

Folic Acid, also known as vitamin B9, is most commonly known for its role in fetal health and development during pregnancy, as it plays a critical role in the proper development of the baby’s nervous system. This important developmental stage occurs during the first initial weeks of pregnancy, so insuring adequate folic acid intake is especially important for all women of child-bearing age. Adequate folic acid may reduce a woman’s risk of having a child with a neural tube defect. Good food sources of this B vitamin are dark green leafy vegetables such as asparagus and spinach as well as brewer’s yeast, liver, fortified orange juice, beets, dates and avocados. Breads and cereals are fortified dietary sources of folic acid.

 

Cobalamin, also known as Vitamin B12, plays a critical role in the pathways of the body that produce cellular energy. It is also needed for DNA synthesis, proper red blood cell formation and for normal nervous system function. Individuals who follow vegan or vegetarian diets may benefit from a B12 supplement since it is predominantly found in foods of animal origin such as chicken, beef, fish, milk and eggs.

 

B vitamins can be taken individually or, combined in a B complex supplement. B vitamins are water soluble, which means they will dissolve and absorb in water, and, that any excess you take in will likely exit your body via your urine. This results in a minimal concern of taking in too much of it. If you are on any medications or have a current health condition, it is always recommended that you consult your doctor and/or pharmacist before you begin supplementing.

 

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin that is also a powerful antioxidant. It is involved in reducing inflammation by fighting against free radical damage in our bodies. Vitamin A plays a critical role in maintaining healthy vision, neurological functions and healthy skin. It is also responsible for building strong bones and supporting immune function.
Vitamin A is found in two forms, active Vitamin A and beta carotene. Active Vitamin A comes from animal-based foods and is referred to as retinol. This form of Vitamin A can be used immediately by the body, so it does not need to first be converted. Beta carotene is the other form of Vitamin A. We can obtain this from colourful fruits and vegetables. Beta carotene needs to first be converted into active Vitamin A in order for the body to be able to utilize it.
It is recommend that we try to obtain our Vitamin A primarily by a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole foods whenever possible, rather than from supplements. Some of the best sources of Vitamin A include eggs, milk, liver, yellow and orange vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes and squash. It is also found in spinach, and other leafy greens.
High doses of vitamin A may actually do more harm than good. Consuming too much Vitamin A from supplementation alone, or in combination with other antioxidants, has been associated with birth defects, lower bone density, and liver problems. If you are planning on supplementing with this, first consult your doctor or pharmacist to insure that it is a safe supplement for you to consume and that it won’t conflict with any current medications you may be taking. Be sure to take lower doses and use supplements from food based sources.

VEGETARIAN SPLIT PEA SOUP

split-pea

INGREDIENTS

18 cups liquid (broth, water, stock or combination)
1 lb split peas, picked over
1 medium onion, chopped
3 TBSP butter
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, or 1/8 cup dried
½ tsp dried basil
1/4 lb quinoa, rinsed (brown rice or barley will do as well)
1 bay leaf
4 large potatoes, diced (can be any potato variety, I like to do half sweet potato)
One 10 oz bag fresh spinach, rinsed, trimmed and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Bring water to a boil in large covered pot.
2. Add split peas, onions, butter/oil, garlic, parsley, basil, quinoa/grain, and bay leaf.
3. Return to a boil.
4. Turn it down to a simmer, uncovered over low heat, stirring frequently for 45 minutes
5. Add the potatoes and spinach
6. Continue to boil over low heat for 45-60 minutes, stirring frequently
7. Once cooked, remove bay leaf and blend soup. I put a hand blender right in the pot.
8. Season as desired, with salt and pepper

GINGER ROASTED CARROTS

ginger-roasted

 

INGREDIENTS

8-10 carrots, washed and cut into 1 inch slices (using a variety of colours improves presentation)
1” ginger grated or finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
¼ cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup chopped onion
2-3 TBSP olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Grease a casserole dish and fill with first five ingredients
2. Drizzle olive oil over top and sprinkle with salt and pepper
3. Mix well so oil and ingredients are all combined.
4. Bake in 375*F oven for about 30 minutes, stirring through about 20 minutes
5. There should just be a touch of firmness to the carrots when done.

CURRIED POTATOES

Sashi's Tasty Bites

 

INGREDIENTS

3 TBSP Coconut oil
½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp cumin
1 ½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp cayenne pepper or pepper flakes
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 ½ tsp salt
Pepper to taste
8-10 potatoes, peeled and cut into ½“ pieces
1 cup coconut milk or almond milk

DIRECTIONS

Melt oil in saucepan. Add mustard, and all spices until everything is combined well.
Pour in milk and let it again, combine well
Add potatoes and stir all together so potatoes are covered with sauce
Bring to a boil and then let simmer for about 20 minutes, or when potatoes can be pierced with a fork.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

stuffed-acorn-squash

 

Looking for a savory dish to warm your home and your appetite? This is easy, hearty and healthy! Add a side salad and you have a full meal deal.

 

Ingredients:

2-3 acorn squash
Olive oil, as needed
Salt and pepper, as needed
1 cup onion, chopped
½ lb of ground turkey or sausage
1 stalk of celery, sliced
1/2 a red pepper, diced
1 apple, diced
Rosemary, as needed
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Goat feta or parmesan, as needed

Directions:

1. 2-3 acorn squash, ends cut off and cut in half and cleaned. Brush sparingly with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake in 400* oven for 40 minutes.
2. While the squash is baking, add  1 TBSP oil to frying pan and saute 1 cup chopped onion, ½ lb of ground turkey/turkey sausage, stalk of celery, red pepper, diced apple, salt, pepper, rosemary and 2 cloves of garlic.
3. Fill baked squash halves, sprinkle with a bit of cheese and bake again for 20 more minutes.
4. Should you prefer to make this a vegetarian dish, use 2 stalks of celery, a whole pepper, handful of chopped baby spinach and a couple chopped mushrooms in the saute and remove meat (and cheese if vegan). You can also sprinkle with a TBSP of walnut pieces if you like.