Banana Bread Bars (Vegan, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free)

You know what coffee shop I love??? Gregory’s. They have delicious coffee and reallllly tasty baked goods. You know what I don’t love about Gregory’s Coffee though? The fact that ONE energy ball is $3.50!!!! Every time I buy one of them I savor every bite while simultaneously kicking myself for spending $3.50 on a tablespoon of rolled mush.

These banana bread bars are inspired by Gregory’s energy bites but TBH they don’t taste anything like them. I made these as simple as possible because that’s how I live my life :)

You can spice them up (literally) with cinnamon or nutmeg; maybe add some coconut flakes; get really wild add some chocolate chips - the world is your oyster. If you have a peanut allergy you could also skip the powdered peanut butter and just add a bit more oatmeal to soak up the moisture. Maybe do a little flax meal - hey I’m down for a good time. These bars are great to grab and go in the morning, as a mid-afternoon snack, or a pre-workout bite to fuel you towards your gains. Whatever it is, enjoy!

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Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe medium bananas

  • 2 cups rolled gluten-free oats

  • 3 scoops Naked Nutrition chocolate peanut butter powder

  • 1 T chia seeds

  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

  • dash of salt

  • Optional add in’s: coconut flakes, nuts, seeds, cranberries, raisins, chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. (We ran out of parchment paper so I had to use aluminum foil - just be sure to spray with cooking spray)

  2. Mash bananas in a large bowl

  3. Stir in dry ingredients

  4. Using about 2 T of “dough” form into a rectangle and place on cookie sheet. This should make about 8-10 bars depending on the size

  5. Bake for 12 minutes

  6. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

  7. Store in airtight container and keep in the refrigerator to last longer. You can microwave for 15-20 seconds to get them all goey again :)

Banana Bread Bars

Banana Bread Bars

Cruciferous Crunch Broccoli Slaw Salad (Dairy-Free, Mayo-Free, Keto

Summer might be winding down but it’s never too late to throw a new side dish into the mix. This cruciferous crunch broccoli slaw salad features two of the many wonderful things one can find at Trader Joe’s. Based off the name can you guess??? That’s right, a bag of cruciferous crunch collection and a bag of broccoli slaw! You can throw this salad together in 10 minutes and bring it to a BBQ or keep if for yourself and enjoy it all week! It’s dairy-free and contains no mayo which apparently some people (my fiance) have a strong hatred for. And add an added bonus it’s high in fiber, vitamins and healthy fats! Enjoy.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C red wine vinegar

  • 2 T balsamic vinegar

  • 1/3 cup EVOO

  • 1/4 t black pepper

  • 1/4 t garlic powder

  • 1/2 t salt

  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds (I used roasted & salted)

  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries 

  • 1 bag broccoli slaw (Trader Joes)

  • 1 bag cruciferous crunch collection (Trader Joes)

Directions:

  1. Combine red wine vinegar, balsamic, salt, pepper and garlic in a blender

  2. Turn blender on low and slowly drizzle in olive oil through the top

  3. If you are working with a magic bullet, combines all liquids and spices and blend

  4. Place dressing to the side

  5. Pour half of the bag of broccoli slaw and half the cruciferous crunch into a large bowl

  6. Add half of the cranberries and half of the sunflower seeds in

  7. Pour half the dressing over the top and combing everything.

  8. Toss for 3-5 minutes until everything is well saturated

  9. Add in the remaining broccoli slaw, cruciferous crunch mix, seeds, cranberries and dressing

  10. Continue to toss everything together for another 3-5 minutes

  11. If you need to adjust taste, add more salt, pepper, garlic powder or vinegar

  12. Serve cold 

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The Best Food Sensitivity Test

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You guys know that my approach to nutrition is what some might call “anti-diet”. Personally I am not a fan of that label because although I am against strict diets as a means to lose weight, I do recognize that some clients suffer from chronic diseases and that they might benefit from the removal (hopefully temporarily) of certain foods. Inflammation is at the root of almost every chronic disease and food sensitivities can play a role in that. If you suffer from IBS, migraines, fibromyalgia, ADD/ADHD, or autism, a food-induced hypersensitivity reaction could be to blame. These reactions can manifest as many of other different symptoms as well. Read on to see how food sensitivities might be to blame.


What are food sensitivities?

Often times people confuse food allergies with food sensitivities, however they are very different reactions. There are 3 different types of diet-induced inflammatory reactions: Food-induced Autoimmune Disease, Food Allergies and Food Sensitivities. The most prevalent of the three are food sensitivities which affect 30-40% of the population. Food and food-chemical sensitivities are highly complex inflammatory reactions. These reactions are non-allergic (non-IgE) and non-celiac. Food and food-chemical sensitivities are one of the most important sources of both inflammation and symptoms across a large range of chronic inflammatory conditions. They play a large role as a source of inflammation in arthritis, IBS, fibromyalgia, migraines, GERD, ADD/ADHD, autism and metabolic syndrome.


How do food sensitivities cause inflammation?

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What medical conditions do food sensitivities play a role in?

Musculoskeletal

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Inflammatory Arthritis

Dermatological

  • Atopic Dermatitis

  • Urticaria

  • Psoriasis

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Urological

  • Interstitial Cystitis

Endocrine

  • Obesity

Gynecological

  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Gastrointestinal

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome

  • Functional Diarrhea

  • GERD

  • Crohn’s Disease

  • Ulcerative Colitis

  • Microscopic Colitis

  • Lymphocytic Colitis

  • Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

Neurological

  • Migraine

  • ADD/ADHD

  • Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Epilepsy

  • Depression

  • Insomnia

  • Restless Leg Syndrome


What does MRT stand for?

MRT stands for Mediator Release Test and is the most accurate food sensitivity test currently available. When diet-induced inflammatory reactions occur, they cause mediator release (leukotrienes, cytokines, prostaglandins, etc) from various white blood cells (lymphocytes, neutrophils, eosinophils, monocytes). These reactions can occur immediately or be delayed up to 72 hours (meaning you might experience symptoms right away or a few days after consuming the food / food chemical - this makes typical elimination diets very challenging).

“All food-induced inflammatory reactions involve mediator release, which is the single most important event leading to all the negative effects food sensitivity patients suffer. Mediator release corresponds to volumetric changes in neutrophils, monocytes, eosinophils, and lymphocytes.”

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How is MRT different from other tests?

One of the most popular food sensitivity tests on the market today is the IgG ELISA test. This test however only looks at IgG mediated responses meaning the results of this test only measure one of type of reaction. Many other non-IgE, non-IgG mediated responses can take place and this ELISA test can miss those. Additionally, elevated levels of IgG may act as protective antibodies so “high” amounts might actually be a good thing. This test is not very useful for IBS or migraines and cannot test reactions to chemicals or additives.

MRT on the other hand measures the outcomes of ALL type 3 and type 4 (non-IgE) hypersensitivities making it most accurate and reliable test available (sensitivity of 94.5% and specificity of 91.7%). MRT also tests for food chemicals and additives. For a full list of tested foods/chemicals click here.


What is LEAP?

LEAP stands for Lifestyle Eating And Performance. The LEAP program gives clinicians a patient-specific approach that provides

  1. A mean of selecting that population of patients who can be expected to benefit from MRT

  2. Laboratory based MRT blood testing for food and chemical hypersensitivity reactions

  3. A dietary plan which is patient specific and easily implemented

  4. A patient self-directed stress and anxiety reduction tool (IBS patients)

  5. Procedures for assessing outcomes

The program’s primary modality is a multiphase method of gradually building a healthy diet for food or chemically hypersensitive patients. The first phase of the program starts with eating only your most non-reactive foods for 2 weeks. From there we gradually reintroduce foods back in to determine your tolerance level for higher reactive and non-tested foods. The process is complex and requires guidance of a professional that is not only well-versed in food sensitivities, but can help you plan meals and monitor nutrient intake.


How can I get started?

The beauty of MRT is that it is offered nationwide meaning I can work virtually with clients all over the country! In order to assess whether you are a good candidate for MRT/LEAP, we must first conduct a consultation. Please click below to schedule your consultation today.

9 Tips to Ease Depression with Nutrition

This post is not to be interpreted as a “cure” for depression. Depression is a complex, multi-factorial illness. Nutrition however, may a play a role in easing some of the symptoms. If you are experiencing depression, please be sure to seek the help of a qualified mental health professional.

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1) Eat Protein at Each Meal

Foods like turkey, tuna and chicken contain an amino acid called tryptophan, which helps produce serotonin (feel good chemical). Include protein at each meal to keep blood sugar levels steady, energy levels high and hunger levels low. Good sources include poultry, fish, beans, grass-fed beef, and yogurt. 

2) Increase Your Water Intake

Dehydration can affect mental status and mood. Fluid needs can vary depending on age, activity level, disease status and climate however a good rule of thumb is 0.5 oz per pound of body weight. Keep a water bottle on your desk or in your bag as a reminder to drink up!

3) Choose Complex Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates may increase serotonin (the happy neurotransmitter) in your brain. Choose foods rich in complex carbohydrates such as quinoa, wild rice, oatmeal and whole grain sprouted breads.  Limit sugary foods and beverages which can cause more cravings, crashes and inflammation in the body.

4) Get Enough Vitamin D

Vitamin D receptors are located throughout your body, including your brain. Studies show a correlation between low vitamin D levels and depression. Increase safe sun exposure and include vitamin D-rich foods such as sardines, salmon, eggs and cod liver oil. 

5) Include Probiotic-Rich Foods

The gut is responsible for delivering nutrients to all organs (including the brain) and for constraining harmful bacteria and molecules from the rest of the body. Poor gut health can lead to “leaky gut” which can allow toxins to cross into the blood stream and eventually into the brain. It can also cause inflammation throughout the entire body. Additionally, 90% of serotonin (the happy neurotransmitter) production occurs in the gut. To maintain a healthy gut microbiome, include probiotic-rich foods such as kefir, kombucha, organic sauerkraut and kimchi. 

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6) Monitor Food Sensitivities

Certain foods, additives or chemicals can cause adverse physical and mental reactions. Pay attention to how different foods affect your mood, energy, and physical state. Common food sensitivities include dairy, gluten, caffeine, eggs, MSG, aspartame, sulfites, fructose, food colors, and sugar alcohols. Sensitivities usually result in bloating, diarrhea, headache, fatigue, runny nose, nausea, rashes, reflux, or flushing of the skin. If you frequently experience these symptoms and suspect you might be suffering from food sensitivities, sign up for a free discovery call to see how a MRT Food Sensitivity Test can help!

7) Choose Omega-3 Rich Foods

Studies show that people that don’t get enough omega-3, may have higher rates of depression. Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce anxiety as and improve depression.  Include flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds and wild-caught fatty fish like Wild Alaskan salmon, sardines and tuna. An omega-3 supplement may be beneficial for vegans and those that consume little or no fish.


8) Include Antioxidant-Rich Foods

Due to environmental factors and the byproduct of metabolism, our bodies accumulate molecules called “free radicals” which can cause cell damage, aging and other problems. The brain is particularly at risk to free radicals. Antioxidants help “clean up” free radicals. To reduce the destructive effect of free radicals, include antioxidant-rich foods in your diet.

  • Fruits: Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, apples, prunes, sweet cherries, plums, black plums

  • Beans: Pinto, red kidney, dried small red

  • Fats: Walnuts, pecans, grass-fed butter, coconut oil, wheat germ, flax-seed, hemp seeds

  • Vegetables: Artichokes, kale, spinach, beets, broccoli, pumpkin, sweet potato, peppers, onions 

  • Spices: Turmeric, ginger, oregano

9) Lifestyle Factors

Caffeine can trigger anxiety, dehydrate the body and interfere with sleep. Excessive caffeine intake can fatigue your adrenal glands and elevate the stress hormone cortisol. Adrenal fatigue is associated with other health problems such as high blood pressure, IBS, ulcers, acid reflux, and Crohn’s disease. Many people who are depressed also have problems with alcohol or drugs. Not only can they interfere with your mood, sleep and motivation, they can also reduce the effectiveness of your depression medications. Work with a qualified health professional if you need help with alcohol or drug dependence.

2-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake (Gluten-Free)

I know it’s probably bad to say as a dietitian, but I don’t like to make complicated things in the kitchen. I love BEING in the kitchen, but I like to keep things simple. This mug cake is a great way to make busy mornings super easy. Just mix the dry ingredients at night, wake up, stir in the liquid, microwave and boom!

Or, if you are like me and cannot finish dinner without something sweet/chocolatey, this mug cake is an awesome way to seal the meal.

2-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

2-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup Birch Benders Paleo Pancake Mix (scroll down to food section)

  • 1 T cacao powder

  • dash of sea salt

  • 1/3 cup almond milk (or milk of your choice)

  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

  • Toppings (optional): peanut butter, nuts, coconut flake, cacao nibs

Directions:

Note: I normally eat a mug cake straight from the mug, but I wanted to showcase all of its beauty. If you’d like to do the same, spray the mug with some cooking spray or wipe down the sides (and bottom) with coconut oil.

1) Combine pancake mix, cacao powder and sea salt in mug.

2) Stir in almond milk and vanilla extract.

3) Microwave for 60 seconds.

4) Top with peanut butter or any other topping you like and enjoy warm!

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How Yo-Yo Dieting is Harming Your Health

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We live in a world that not only shames obesity, but blames it for almost every chronic disease. Whether our doctor tells us we are 10 pounds “overweight'“ or 100 pounds “overweight”, we live in fear that this weight will eventually lead to our demise.

So what are we told to do? Lose weight of course! How? Through DIET and EXERCISE!

More often than not, people embark on a weight loss journey in an attempt to improve their health. Now don’t get me wrong - changing up your nutrition can and will improve your health - IF you change the way you THINK about food. Most people however, tend to engage in restrictive, unhealthy behaviors in order to lose weight though (which remember, was to be healthy - backwards much?)

I’ll cut out carbs. Nothing white allowed. Only protein and veggies. No eating after 6pm. No more sweets. Fast intermittently. Do weight watchers. Go keto. Give vegan a try.

These are some of the ideas we come up with for ourselves or are given as suggestions from friends, family AND DOCTORS.

What if I told you restrictive diets not only DON’T WORK (as in they don’t keep weight off long term) BUT actually NEGATIVELY impact both your PHYSICAL and MENTAL HEALTH?

That’s right - diets ARE BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH!

Today I am going to share the biological, physical, psychological and emotional ways in which diets can negatively impact your health. The following information is adopted from Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch’s book Intuitive Eating; A revolutionary program that works (pg 48-49).

Biological and Physical Damage

Throughout the history of our human existence, human starvation has occurred. In some parts of the world, it still occurs today. In order to survive as a species, human beings adapted during times of famine and learned to hold on to extra energy stores. In order to survive, we needed to store fat. Today, although our technology, access to food and day-to-day lifestyles have changed drastically, this built in survival mechanism has not - and it kicks on when we diet. Which leads to the following:

  1. Chronic dieting teaches the body to retain more fat when you start eating again. Low-calorie diets double the enzymes that make and store fat in the body. This is a form of biological compensation to help the body store more energy, or fat, after dieting.”

  2. “Chronic dieting slows the rate of weight loss with each successive attempt to diet.”

  3. Decreases metabolism. Dieting triggers the body to become more efficient at utilizing calories by lowering the body’s need for energy”

  4. Increases binges and cravings. Both humans and rats have been shown to overeat after chronic food restriction. Food restriction stimulates the brain to launch a cascade of cravings to eat more. After substantial weight loss, studies show that rats prefer eating more fat, while people have been shown to prefer foods both high in fat and sugar”

  5. Increase risk of premature death and heart disease.” Studies have shown that people who’s weight repeatedly goes up and down, have a higher death rate and two times the risk of dying of heart disease (independent of cardiovascular risk factors, and held true for thin and obese people). The Harvard Alumni Health Study shows that people who lose and gain 11+ pounds within 10 years or so, don’t live as long as people that maintain a stable weight.

  6. Cause satiety cues to atrophy”. Dieters learn to rely on external cues/rules to stop eating rather than listening to inner cues of fullness.

  7. Cause body shape to change. Yo-yo dieters who continually regain the lost weight tend to regain weight in the abdominal area. This type of fat storage increase the risk of heart disease.”

Irregular periods, fatigue, dry skin, hair loss, and headaches are other side effects of dieting.

Psychological and Emotional Damage

  1. Dieting is linked to eating disorders.” In one study, by age 15, dieters were 8x more likely to suffer from an eating disorder than non-dieters.

  2. Dieting causes feeling of failure, erodes self-trust, confidence and self-esteem. It can also increase social anxiety.

  3. Loss of control when eating. Continuous restriction and deprivation can trigger overeating when a “forbidden” food is consumed.

As you can see, dieting is harmful in so many ways. You are probably thinking “Okay so what am I supposed to do instead?” Well, I’m glad you asked. Weight gain beyond what is healthy for your body is almost always a SYMPTOM, not a cause. In order to treat the symptom we need to treat what is causing it in the first place. For some that could be stress, a busy schedule or perhaps a knowledge deficit. For many though, dieting is the cause, in which case we need to stop dieting.

Learning to eat intuitively is the answer, for EVERY SINGLE PERSON. Intuitive eating is a paradigm shift on how we approach food. It is looking at nutrition from a completely different frame of reference and getting back in touch with the intuition we were all born with.

Are you ready to get off the merry-go-round that is the diet cycle and become an intuitive eater FOR LIFE? Click HERE to schedule a free 30 minute discovery call to see how my intuitive eating program can help.

I Tried Intermittent Fasting and Here's What Happened

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting

If you haven’t heard of Intermittent Fasting (IF) I would love to come join you in whatever place you are at that diet culture has yet to contaminate. Intermittent Fasting for those of you whole aren’t familiar is a type of diet (or “style of eating”) that restricts the time frame in which you can consume your calories. Unlike most diets that tell you WHAT you can / can’t eat, IF tells you WHEN you can / can’t eat. There are a bunch of different protocols people choose to follow but the most common is a 16:8 fasting protocol. This means that for 16 hours of the day you fast, while the other 8 hours are your feeding window. Many people choose a “feeding window” from 11-7 or 12-8 pm.

16:8 Intermittent Fasting Schedule

16:8 Intermittent Fasting Schedule

Now before I go on, some of you may be wondering - but this girl preaches Intuitive Eating - what is this whole Intermittent Fasting business she’s talking about - how dare she?! And I know…part of me was hesitant to even post this BUT as a health care provider I prefer to have PERSONAL experience with a variety of different eating style so that when my clients inevitably bring them up, I can speak to them. I’m also not here to judge or tell you what to do with your life. We learn through experience and this was mine…

If you guys follow me on the gram (@FeelGoodDietitian), you guys probably know I was a highly competitive bikini bodybuilder that struggled with bulimia and had a bit of anorexia when I was in high school. Needless to say, my previous relationship with food was not the healthiest. These experiences however give me insight into how my current clients feel and allow me to relate at a personal level. So anyways, when I made the decision to give IF a shot, I promised myself I would be as intuitive as possible and approach it from a place of health (that’s what we all tell ourselves right?). I somehow STILL have H. Pylori even after rounds of antibiotics (but that rant is for another blog post) so I still get bloated. My thought behind starting IF was “well I feel pretty bloated in the morning ESPECIALLY if I eat breakfast so let me just try this whole fasting thing and see how it goes.” I should have just stopped right there….

I got myself a book all about IF, started doing more research, downloaded the Zero app to track my fasts and like always I WAS STOKED & READY TO DO THIS (that dieter’s high). As I read through articles and listened to podcasts and YouTube videos I did learn A LOT of about the research out there on the positive health benefits of fasting such as:

  1. Improved blood sugars (which I have no issues with)

  2. Autophagy (which literally means “self-eating” and is the bodies way to cleaning up old cells - basically an anti-aging process)

  3. Reduction of oxidative-stress

  4. Mental clarity

  5. Improved insulin sensitivity (again, no issues here), increase human-growth-hormone and positive effects of gene-expression

Great! I’m all for improving my health. Let’s do this!

So the first week I tried fasting, I started with 13-14 hour fasts because I read that the female reproductive system is super sensitive to famine and anything beyond 14 may cause issues. I’d start my day with water and some coffee (sometimes I’d throw in 1 tsp of coconut oil or brain octane oil - which is apparently not a true fast but relax….) then I’d eat around 11 am. The second or third day I started noticing mental clarity in the morning as well as A LOT of energy, almost comparable to the excessive caffeine jitters. I noticed I was feeling better when I would fast and then during my eating window I didn’t feel as good. So I started pushing my fasting window a bit longer, 16 hours, 17 hours, 18 hours. Apparently the “benefits of fasting” increase the longer you fast so why not right??? (As much as I continue to work on eroding that black-white thinking part of my personality, occasionally it still rears its ugly black and white head). All in all week 1 was fine. I should also mention I got engaged halfway through week 1 so the motivation level was there. As much as I told myself it was for health benefits only, that diet culture tape started playing in my head about how I would look in my wedding dress. I reassured myself however that it wasn’t about the weight loss and was only about health….mhm.

Week 2, perhaps from severe glycogen depletion or my body sensing what I was doing, was not so great. I was starting to feel super hungry all of the time but that voice in my head telling me it wasn’t time to eat yet popped up. I was starting to miss the previous weeks euphoric fasting high I had felt. Trying to align my work, fasting, eating and exercise schedule was an additional stress I did not need. Frustration and confusion came and went but I persisted on.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting

By week 3, I knew this wasn’t going to work out for me. Side note: for anyone out there that has past experience with an eating disorder, restriction of any kind can be INCREDIBLY triggering. Recovering from an eating disorder is so hard to do, especially living in a culture that is basically shoving disordered eating down your throat (pun intended). Now, I’m not saying recovery from drugs or alcohol is easy but you don’t need to consume heroin or alcohol to sustain life. Recovering from an eating disorder is almost like asking an alcoholic to work or live in a bar for the rest of their life. Just like an alcoholic needs to remove him or herself from certain situations and people, as does someone recovering/recovered from an eating disorder. Not only do you need to surround yourself with supportive people that have a healthy relationship with food, but you also need to remove yourself from situations that trigger ED behavior… LIKE RESTRICTION.

By week 3 I was basically starting to freak out in my head, if I ate before the fasting goal I had set was up, I’d be bummed or felt like I couldn’t handle it. I have enough training/experience to know what to do in these moments but I knew this was not a good thing. My desire to eat was heightened, my thoughts started to revolve around foods and hours and restriction. This was when I called it quits.

Just like any other strict diet however, there are things to take away from the experience to use as information and apply to an intuitive eating practice. By no means am I saying you need to try these strict diets to learn how to eat intuitively - I’m more telling you to not beat yourself up if you tried a diet and it didn’t “work”. Learn from it - what made you feel good, what made you feel bad etc. My main takeaway was if I’m not hungry for breakfast and I skip it I tend to feel better throughout the day (Hello “Honor Your Hunger” principle). Did I need to fast for 20 hours to figure this out…..100% no.

Moral of the story; if you have an eating disorder or past history of one, I would NOT suggest intermittent fasting. If you have a history of yo-yo dieting I also do not think IF is the solution you are looking for. Would I suggest IF to most people - definitely not. I think men tend to do better physically and emotionally with an approach like this but if you feel good and your mental state is equally good while you’re doing intermittent fasting, go for it.

What I would suggest is that you start to see nutrition through an Intuitive Eating lens. Rather than labeling your eating habits as IF, or Keto, Paleo, Whole30, why not just listen to your hunger and fullness cues and eat the foods that you enjoy and improve your sleep/digestion/energy/mood. Why not just eat the foods that make you FEEL GOOD (now and later).

Hunger Fullness Scale / Intuitive Eating

Hunger Fullness Scale / Intuitive Eating

Summer Lentil Salad

Trader Joe’s does it again with their steamed, ready-to-eat lentils. This definitely isn’t a new product, I’m just late to the game and bummed I’ve been missing out on such deliciousness this whole time. This lentil salad is great as a meal, a side, a snack or on top of a salad. It has a summery feel to it because it’s a cold salad and because of the lime flavor, BUT thanks to climate change who can even keep track of what season we’re in?? The best part about this recipe….it takes about 5 minutes to make!

Cold Lentil Salad

Cold Lentil Salad

Easy Cold Lentil Salad

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Ingredients:

  • Trader Joe’s steamed lentils (1 box)

  • 1/2-1/3 cup chopped scallions (depending on how big of a scallion fan you are)

  • 1/3 cup diced tomatoes

  • 1/3 cup chopped cucumber

  • juice from 1 lime

  • salt / pepper / garlic to taste

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well (unless you’re trying to go for aesthetics for blogs and or social media then mix everything but the cucumbers together and then carefully place chopped cuc’s in a pile in the middle).

  2. Serve cold.

Homemade Nutella (sugar-free)

Not going to lie, I was patting myself on the back for this one. This homemade Nutella tastes just like the stuff you’d buy in the store but without all of the added oils and sugars. Not only is it free of the junk, it’s packed with healthy fats and antioxidants! I’d call that a WIN-WIN.

Homemade Nutella

Homemade Nutella

Ingredients:

  • 2.25 cups dry roasted hazelnuts

  • 1 T + 1 tsp coconut oil

  • 2 T cacao powder

  • 8-12 drops liquid stevia

Directions:

  1. Add hazelnuts and coconut oil to food processor or high-speed blender like a Vitamix (if using Vitamix like I did, you’ll need to use the tamper)

  2. Blend / process on high for 1-2 minutes

  3. Add cacao powder

  4. Blend

  5. Scrape from sides with rubber spatula

  6. Add 8 drops of stevia, blend and taste. Add more for more sweetness

  7. Use a rubber spatula to scrape nutella from sides of the blender/processor into a glass jar or dish

  8. Enjoy with apples, bananas, toast or my favorite way, straight from the jar with a spoon :)

Easing Anxiety with Nutrition

Easing Anxiety with Nutrition

Easing Anxiety with Nutrition

We’ve all heard the phrase “you are what you eat.” Beyond the physical, the food we eat impacts the way with think and our ability to focus. Science is now showing the connection between nutrition and our mental health. What we eat can either contribute to or help ease anxiety. Follow these steps to improve your symptoms and your mood.

Eat Protein at Breakfast (and each meal throughout the day)

Protein can help you feel fuller longer and helps to stabilize blood sugar level so you have more energy throughout the day. Protein is also necessary for the production of dopamine (the feel-good neurotransmitter). Good sources of protein include: eggs, chicken, fish, turkey, pork, beef, tofu, beans and greek yogurt.

Choose Complex Carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates may increase serotonin (a neurotransmitter that has a calming effect) levels in the brain. Choose foods rich in complex carbohydrates such as quinoa, wild rice, oatmeal and whole grain sprouted breads. Limit simple sugars such as cookies, cakes and candy which cause spikes in blood sugar levels and energy crashes.

Increase Your Water Intake

Dehydration can affect mental status and mood. Dehydration has been linked to a raise in cortisol (the stress hormone) levels. Keep a water bottle on your desk or in your bag as a reminder to drink up!

Mind Your Minerals

Magnesium can have a calming effect on the body. Incorporate high magnesium foods such as nuts, seeds, legumes and leafy greens such as swiss chard, spinach and kale. Foods rich in zinc, such as cashews, grass-fed beef, egg yolks and oysters, have been linked to lower anxiety.

Include Prebiotic and Probiotic-rich Foods

Probiotics are important for a healthy gut microbiome. Studies show that fermented foods that contain probiotics, protect against social anxiety. Include probiotic-rich foods such as kefir, kombucha, organic sauerkraut and kimchi. Prebiotics are basically food for probiotics. Prebiotics can be found in the following foods: onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, banana, apple and chicory root.

Choose Omega-3 Rich Foods

Omega-3 fatty acids may also reduce anxiety as well as improving depression. Include flax seeds, chia seeds and wild-caught fatty fish like wild Alaskan salmon.

Limit / Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol

Caffeine can make you feel jittery and nervous, interfere with sleep and dehydrate you. Excessive caffeine intake can fatigue your adrenal glands and elevate the stress hormone cortisol. Adrenal fatigue is associated with other health problems such as high blood pressure, IBS, stomach ulcers, acid reflux, and Crohn’s disease. Drinking alcohol may seem like a good way to calm your nerves, but in reality, it causes spikes and dips in blood sugar, dehydrates you, and causes impaired brain function—all of which can lead to anxious feelings. This may in turn make you want to drink even more. You can see the vicious cycle.

Include Antioxidant-Rich Foods
A lowered total antioxidant state is thought to be correlated with anxiety. Including antioxidant rich foods in your diet may help relieve some anxiety symptoms.


Fruits: Apples (Gala, Granny Smith, Red Delicious), prunes, sweet cherries, plums, black plums)
Berries: Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries
Beans: Pinto, red kidney
Nuts: Walnuts, pecans
Vegetables: Artichokes, kale, spinach, beets, broccoli
Spices: Turmeric and ginger

Pay Attention to Food Sensitivities
Certain foods, chemicals and/or additives can cause adverse physical and mental reactions. Pay attention to how different foods affect your mood, energy, and physical state. Common food sensitivities include dairy, gluten, caffeine, eggs, MSG, aspartame, sulfites, fructose, food colors, and sugar alcohols. Sensitivities usually result in bloating, diarrhea, headache, fatigue, runny nose, nausea, rashes, reflux, or flushing of the skin. 

Which Diet is Best For Me?

which diet is best for me?

which diet is best for me?

If you are reading this, chances are you’ve been on a diet before.

Paleo

Keto

Atkins

Weight Watchers

Vegan

Carnivore

Whole 30

Flexible Dieting (If It Fits Your Macros - IIFYM)

Intermittent Fasting

Low carb

Low fat

Vegetarian

Gluten-free

Zone Diet

Blood Type Diet

Cabbage Soup Diet

Cookie Diet

Alkaline Diet

South Beach

Raw Food Diet

Slimfast

Special K

Jenny Craig

The Master Cleanse

These are 24 diets I could think of off the top of my head. There are hundreds more out there but for arguments sake lets say there are 24. So with 24 styles of eating, 24 programs that claim to be the answer to health and weight loss, here we are……confused, frustrated and disappointed.

What. The. French…?

How is it that we have so much research, so much technology, so much access to information and yet we are still trying to figure out how to get this nutrition thing “right”?

If you are like most of us and have tried 3,6,10 or all of the diets listed above, I’m glad you are here! Today I’m going to talk briefly about how you can finally find a style of eating that works FOR YOU.

“Wait a second, I’ve heard this before” you might be thinking, and I don’t blame you for your skepticism! Unlike many people behind these fad diets, I’m not here to sell you a book or product. I’m not here to offer you empty promises. I’m not here to tell you how to drop 12 pounds fast. I’m here to help you give all of this up for good, settle into a weight that is healthy for your body and help you get back to more important things in life that don’t involve points, grams or a food scale.

Your mom was right….You are special :) You are unique and unlike anyone else on this planet (yay for affirmations).

We are all unique. We have different lifestyles, different activity levels, different upbringings and different genes. We have different goals, different medical histories, make different amounts of money, and have different food preferences.

SO WHY WOULD WE ALL EAT THE SAME?!

What works for one person might not work for someone else.

So then, what is the BEST DIET for YOU?!

The best diet for you is:

  • fluid

  • enjoyable

  • non-restrictive

  • sustainable long-term

The best diet for you also:

  • improves sleep

  • provides variety

  • aids in good digestion

  • allows for social events

  • meets your medical needs

  • supports stable energy and mood

  • provides satisfaction and pleasure

  • meets your physical and emotional needs

  • aligns with your cultural and personal beliefs

  • promotes health (but not so much that you miss out on the satisfaction factor of foods)

“Cool” you might be thinking…..how do I figure out what that looks like?

That my friend is the work, and it’s the work not everyone wants to do. We live in a society today where we want instant gratification (and I’ve got my hand way up, I am massively impatient and I know it) and we don’t want to do the work or wait for the results.

It’s a lot easier to follow a plan mindlessly then tune into your body and listen to what it is saying. Or to observe your behaviors and question why you do what you do. It’s a lot harder to challenge your beliefs and re-frame your thoughts, so we try diet plan after diet plan looking for the answer. The answer, which is corny I know, is within my friend.

Think about this….

When we were hungry as an infant, we would cry until our caretaker fed us. Once we were full we would push away and move on, until we were hungry again. Infants don’t stress eat, they don’t feel guilty for eating more at one feeding session then the other, and they don’t eat all day long.

We are ALL born with this "eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full” mechanism if you will. It’s not until we get a bit older and we are told to "“finish our plate” or that we “can’t have dessert until dinner is gone” that this inner voice gets hushed. We learn to listen to the (usually well-meaning) older people around us to figure out how to eat instead of listening to our bodies.

From a young age, we are also taught certain foods are good or bad. Broccoli is good and cookies are bad. We learn that food has an emotional component as well. Ice cream is used to celebrate a baseball game or to soothe a scraped knee.

Then we grow up and download Instagram and make a Facebook and mindlessly scroll all day while thousands of messages from the media continue to infiltrate our subconscious. Eggs are bad and keto is life and vegan will help you live to 100.

So now you have your family’s beliefs deeply ingrained, and you’ve got societies messages poured onto you. It’s no wonder you feel confused……you’ve got years of diet culture conditioning you under your belt.

What are you supposed to do?

The first step is to let go of the idea that a “diet” is going to work for you. Calorie restriction leads to weight gain. It doubles the enzymes that stores fat. Is erodes self-trust and takes you further away from the innate wisdom we all have.

Stop trying to fit into a mold and apply what you’ve learned from all of that diet experience. Did you learn that you have more energy when you eat less carbs? Cool! Do that. Are you a complete grouch if you skip breakfast! Cool! Eat breakfast then!

Listen to how food feels in your body.

  • Does it make your stomach feel weird?

  • Does it make you tired?

  • Does it give you gas?

  • Does it cause you to break out?

  • Does it give you diarrhea

  • Does it taste like garbage to you?

TRY TO EAT LESS OF THOSE THINGS

  • Do you feel full when you eat more fiber and protein?

  • Do your joints feel better when you eat more “whole” food?

  • Do you enjoy the taste of that food?

  • Does that food help you stay “regular”

TRY TO DO MORE OF THOSE THINGS.

Don’t over-complicate it people. The things from the top list aren’t bad; the foods from the bottom aren’t good. Different foods feel different in all of our bodies. Again, what works for one person, might not work for another.

To simplify it into one sentence:

Eat the things that make you feel good (energy, mood, digestion, sleep, strength) and that you enjoy.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tarts (gluten-free, keto)

You guys know I’m always chatting about brain health and omega-3’s. Well this tasty treat is packed with omegas thanks to a nice dose of hemp hearts. No don’t worry, not that kind of hemp; the only high you’ll be getting from these is a chocolate peanut butter high.

So what are hemp hearts? Well, they’re the edible interiors of the seed that hemp grows from. The hemp plant does share the same plant species as the marijuana plant. But the hemp plant contains nearly undetectable levels of THC. Hemp hearts contain less than 0.3%, while traditional marijuana plants can contain levels upward of 10 to 30%.

Per serving, hemp hearts contain 10 grams of plant-based protein and 12 grams of omega-3 and omega-6 per 30-gram serving (which is more than a comparable serving of chia or flax). Combine this with raw cacao powder, an egg, coconut oil and some peanut butter and you’ve yourself got quite a health bomb.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder

  • 1 cup + 2 T Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  • few drops of liquid stevia (optional - I didn’t use stevia but if you prefer sweeter, go for it )

  • 1 T coconut oil (melted)

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter

  • coarse salt

Directions:

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  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray mini cupcake tin with cooking spray

  2. In a bowl, mix the cacao, hemp heart , eggs, vanilla extract and stevia until well combined

  3. Spoon about a tablespoon of the mixture into each well in the cupcake tin

  4. Press down to form a little cup - shown here

  5. Bake for 10 minutes

  6. While the cups are baking, melt coconut oil and peanut butter in a double boiler

  7. Remove tray from oven after 10 minutes and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes

  8. Remove cups from pan and place them on a plate or flat surface

  9. Use a spoon to fill the cups up with the coconut oil / peanut butter mixture

  10. Freeze for 30 minutes

  11. Remove and sprinkle salt on top

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Roasted Tomato Soup

So I can’t take credit for this recipe because my client actually made this soup for me. She sent me the recipe to replicate but it’s so darn good that I asked if she’d be cool if I shared it with you guys. She’s the best so here you have it!

Dairy-free Roasted Tomato Soup

Dairy-free Roasted Tomato Soup

Ingredients:

Part 1

  • 7-8 vine tomatoes, quartered

  • 1 c cherry tomatoes

  • 1 c cremini mushrooms, sliced

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1.5 T balsamic vinegar

  • 8 cloves garlic

  • 10 sprigs thyme

  • 1/2 t salt

  • 1/4 t black pepper

  • 1/8 t cumin

Part 2:

  • 2.5 T grass-fed Kerrygold butter (can use EVOO if you are vegan)

  • 1 mirepoix container from Trader Joes (or 1/2 C each: chopped onions, celery and carrots)

  • 10 sprigs thyme

  • 1, 6 oz can tomato paste

  • 1 c chicken or vegetable broth (vegetable if vegan)

  • 1/4 t Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning OR 21 Salute Seasoning (optional)

  • 1 handful fresh basil’

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 370 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil

  2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients from part 1 and mix thoroughly

  3. Transfer to baking sheet and roast in oven for 30 minutes

  4. When the tomato mixture has about 10 minutes remaining, brown the butter in a large pot over medium heat

  5. Add the mirepoix and thyme and stir frequently

  6. When the timer goes off for the tomato mixture, remove from oven. Spoon ~1/3 c of the juices into the pot with the mirepoix

  7. Place tray of tomatoes back into the oven and roast for another 30 minutes

  8. Add can of tomato paste to pot, stir and continue to cook (stirring frequently) until mixture turns into what looks like a pile of mush

  9. When the tomatoes have finished roasting, remove from oven, remove sprigs of thyme (from the tomato mixture and from the mirepoix) and add to pot

  10. Add broth, and everyday seasoning, stir and allow to simmer for 10 minutes

  11. Add basil, simmer for another 5 minutes

  12. Turn off flame

  13. Use a high power blender or immersion blender to puree and emulsify the soup

  14. Serve hot, preferably with a side of grilled cheese

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Mousse

Does anyone else get annoyed when you look up a recipe and have to scroll for 10 minutes to get past a novel? I get it…blogging. But I’m sure most people just want the recipe……so here you are…. (you’re welcome).

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Mousse

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Mousse

Ingredients: (serves 3)

  • 7 oz firm tofu (I used House Foods)

  • 6 T powdered peanut butter (I used Naked Nutrition)

  • 1/2 cup cacao powder

  • 1 T raw honey (use more or less depending on preference)

  • 1 small ripe banana

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

  • Optional Toppings: cacao nibs, shredded coconut, banana slices, nuts, peanut butter drizzle

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth

  2. Divide into cups and refrigerate for 30 minutes

  3. Serve cold with or without toppings

Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Seed Bites

Does anyone else feel like they need a bite of chocolate after dinner to seal the deal before they feel truly satisfied? I’m not sure what that’s all about but these bites are perfect for satisfying that sweet tooth and potentially, simultaneously lowering your blood pressure, reducing your risk of diabetes and improving insulin sensitivity. Yes, you read that right.

Dark chocolate is high in flavanols, (antioxidant) which may actually protect the heart. Dark chocolate is also rich in magnesium, zinc, iron, phosphorus and copper. As always though, quality matters - look for a higher % like 72-85% and read the food labels. Food companies like to pump in tons of added sugars and other garbage to make their product hyper-palatable. Although there are health benefits to dark chocolate, like most things, there is a point of diminishing returns. Aim for 1-2 small square of high quality dark chocolate per day. For more information check out this site.

Pomegranate seeds are also high in antioxidants. They contain flavonoids, polyphenols, tannins, and anthocyanin. Additionally they are rich in vitamin c, fiber, and potassium. So basically you’re doing your body right by making and consuming these bites.

Ingredients (makes ~16 bites):

  • 3, organic 72% dark chocolate bars

  • 1, 5 oz box pomegranate seeds

Instructions:

  1. Break up bars of chocolate and place into a microwave-safe dish (you could also use a double boiler to melt the chocolate).

  2. Heat the chocolate at 30 second intervals, stirring every 30 seconds, until the chocolate is melted. I heated and stirred about 4 times.

  3. If you are using a silicon mold, place a cookie sheet under the mold so you are able to transfer it to the freezer once you’ve poured in the chocolate.

  4. Pour ~1 Tablespoon of melted dark chocolate into each square of the silicon mold or lined mini-muffin/cupcake pan.

  5. Freeze for 5 minutes so the chocolate hardens a bit and the seeds don’t just sink to the bottom.

  6. Remove from freezer and spoon ~1 teaspoon of pomegranate seeds into each section.

  7. Cover with another 2-3 teaspoons of melted dark chocolate.

  8. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving (or ~15 minutes in freezer to make sure chocolate is completely solidified).

  9. Enjoy (with a napkin nearby).

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