Tag Archives: nutrition

Tips For Boosting Your Metabolism

What exactly does “metabolism” mean? We hear it talked about enough, but do we really know what it is or what it needs to stay vibrant and healthy? I’d venture to guess that most of us have no clue. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place! 🙂

Metabolism: the chemical processes by which a plant or an animal uses food, water, etc., to grow, heal and make energy. Hmmmm… sounds important. A properly functioning metabolism ultimately means the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy body. How can we get our metabolism to function optimally? Implementing the following tips into your daily diet would be a great start!

Metabolism Boosting Tips:

  • Eat whole foods and lots of veggies- the more you’re able to eat unprocessed foods that come from the earth and animals, not labs and factories, the more your metabolism will like you.
  • Eat and drink the right foods-
    • Broccoli
    • Asparagus
    • Lemon and lemon water
    • Celery
    • Apple cider vinegar
    • Green tea
    • Garlic
    • Berries
    • Grapefruit
    • Apples
  • Exercise to get your metabolism up and running (literally!)
  • Plan ahead- Try to stick to a somewhat set eating schedule. This will allow your body to be more aware of when it’s actually hungry. It also helps maintain hormonal balance. This is essential for weight loss, as an imbalance in certain hormones, such as leptin and ghrelin, will cause “false hunger”.
  • Aim for 3 small meals and at least 1-2 small snacks throughout the day. When we go too long without eating, our metabolism slows down in an attempt to conserve resources aka FAT. Our body doesn’t want to give it up easily, unfortunately. From an evolutionary perspective, this was advantageous because sometimes we would have to go long periods of time between meals. When you’re hunting and gathering, obtaining food on a consistent basis isn’t exactly a sure bet. So, the metabolism slows, as does weight loss. FEED your metabolism, don’t starve it! In small quantities throughout the day, of course.
  • Don’t cut calories to under 1200 per day. As I just stated, we need to eat in order for our metabolism to function. If you’re consistently feeding yourself too little, you’re actually doing yourself a disservice. And you’re hungry, which probably pisses you off. Learn to listen to your body and it will tell you what it needs and in what quantity. As a result of all the crap we eat on a daily basis- with all the additives, fake ingredients, and inflammatory oils, many of us are highly imbalanced hormonally and don’t get the signal to stop eating. Luckily, with time and effort, this can be fixed!
  • Incorporate heat-generating spices into your daily meals. Cayenne, ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon are all excellent choices.
  • Drink your water! You’re probably not drinking as much as you think. Measure out your water each morning for a week to determine exactly how much you should be consuming. You should be drinking roughly 60-70 oz./day. I recommend filling up a water bottle with measurements for ease. After awhile, it will become second nature to drink that amount.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast. I know, I know. You’ve heard this one a million times, but it really is true! It doesn’t have to be a huge meal, and in fact shouldn’t be, but simply something to get your metabolism running for the day. Also, what we eat first in the day sets the stage for the rest of the day. So don’t go for the donuts at work; that cup of yogurt with berries would be a much better bet.
  • Get adequate sleep. Another one you’ve probably heard a million times and scoffed at, but again, it really is true! Some people say they can live off, and even thrive, on less than 6 hours/night. This is what I say to that: you’re either lying or you’re kidding yourself. Study after study has shown that quality sleep positively affects our hormonal signaling, leading to less feelings of false hunger. If you have chronic sleeping problems, it would greatly behoove you to figure out why.
  • While I strongly believe in starting with diet when engaging in self-improvement measures, targeted supplements can be a helpful metabolism-boosting tool for some people. Here are some great examples:
    • Vitamin B6- helps with water retention, reduces sugar cravings, and helps supply fuel to cells, which then burn calories more efficiently.
    • Chromium- stabilizes blood sugar and reduces carbohydrate cravings.
    • CoQ10- generates cellular energy and increases body’s ability to transform food into energy.
    • Turmeric- excites the production of bile juice which breaks down fatty foods.
    • Vitamin D- studies have shown a strong correlation between obesity and low vitamin D levels.
  • If you’ve tried all of the above for more than a few months and your weight is hanging tough and you feel sluggish as ever, then you should consider getting your thyroid checked.

The sum total of your efforts will certainly be rewarded. However, like most things in life, it’s not going to happen overnight. Way too many people expect to feel magically healthier, more energized, and automatically slimmer simply from eating a salad. Once. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, or reality, but it simply doesn’t work like that. You have to make your health a top priority, be consistent in your behaviors, and put in the effort! It will pay off though, of that I’m certain. 🙂

Supplements: What You Need To Know

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Nutritional supplements produced $32 BILLION in revenue in 2012, proving they are quite a lucrative business. But are they necessary? The answer to this question is pretty complex. Depending on who you talk to, you will usually either get an enthusiastic “YES!” or a emphatic “NO”! So who’s right?!

The ultimate answer lies in each individual and is dependent on a number of variables specific to that person. To put it simply, some people benefit from them and some people don’t. If you’re in great overall health and eat a nourishing, whole foods diet on a regular basis, then you are probably someone that falls into the “don’t” category. If you have a host of health problems and have a less-than-ideal diet, then yes, supplementation could be highly beneficial. However, thinking that taking a few pills 1-2x/day will magically make you healthy, slim, and glowing, while still eating like crap is… magical thinking. It will not work. You MUST eat a whole foods diet; you may not necessarily need to supplement.

There are a few reasons why someone would benefit from supplementation though:

First, in the case of vegans and possibly vegetarians, one would need to take B12 and would likely benefit greatly from vitamin D and a B complex, as all of these nutrients are difficult to impossible to get from plant sources. Without adequate B12, one stands the chance of developing irreparable nerve damage. In addition, some vegans may need to take an iron supplement, though one should get their iron levels tested prior to supplementing, as it can oxidize in the body if not needed.

Secondly, in the case of nutrient deficiencies. As a result of our poor diet, these deficiencies are quite rampant in our population. This can be assessed with a simple blood test or hair mineral analysis of vitamin and mineral levels in the blood or hair. If any of them are low, then supplement! If not, then don’t! Easy, peasy.

Lastly, in the case of certain health conditions. Targeted nutritional supplementation can be incredibly effective at resolving specific issues. For example, someone with joint pain and inflammation could likely benefit from some fish oil, glucosamine, and vitamin D; someone with IBS would be advised to take probiotics, L-glutamine, and digestive enzymes.

Some Considerations:

  • Quality– Not all supplements are created equal. Buying in bulk from drugstores isn’t a good idea, as these companies typically use the lowest quality forms of vitamins and minerals, which aren’t going to be assimilated into the body and are basically worthless at best and inflammatory at worst. Health food stores can be a better bet, but you should still remain wary of quality. What’s the expiration date on the product? Are there any knowledgeable people working there to assist you? Pharmaca is great source for high quality supplements. They are also online. Speaking of online- this is usually your best way of getting the best deal and the best selection of products. Can you tell I recommend this route? 🙂 Make sure you do your research though. To reiterate- not all supplements are created equal!
  • Ratios– It’s very important to not over-supplement with one specific nutrient. For example, women are told by their doctors to take calcium for osteoporosis. What we’re not told is that we need to supplement this in conjunction with magnesium. Not doing so could actually result in WEAKER bones! Do your research before supplementing with one lone nutrient- doing this for long periods of time usually isn’t necessary and can sometimes even be harmful.
  • Duration– Most supplements don’t need to be taken indefinitely. The exceptions might be probiotics, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 for certain individuals with chronic situations. For most of us though, we only need to take a particular vitamin or mineral until our levels of that nutrient are back to optimal levels, again determined by a blood test or hair mineral analysis. However, if your diet is poor, then supplementing long term with certain products, such as a high-quality multi-vitamin and mineral, vitamin C, and calcium/magnesium, could be beneficial. Again though, there is no true substitution for a healthy, whole foods diet.

Here’s a list of a few reputable companies:

  • Designs for Health
  • Metagenics
  • Thorne Research
  • Natural Factors
  • Garden of Life
  • NOW

If you’d like further elaboration on this topic or advice on your particular situation, please don’t hesitate to post in the comment box below or message me! I’m always happy to provide nutritional knowledge to those genuinely interested.

Moral of the story– Do your research before buying to make sure you’re getting quality and that you actually need it! Don’t waste your money on something you saw on TV or your friend said she took… will it be helpful for YOU? That is the question.

Whole Foods Grocery List

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Want to achieve optimal health and vitality? Then buy these foods and ONLY these foods. Packaged, processed foods are largely devoid of nutrients, contain ingredients we can’t pronounce and the body doesn’t recognize (because it’s man-made food!), and can alter our brain chemistry so we ravenously crave them. GET OUT OF THE BOX!! Your health depends on it.

Vegetables4-7 servings per day

Brassica family

  • Arugula
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Collards
  • Kale
  • Radish
  • Rutabaga
  • Turnip
  • Watercress

Carotene Family

  • Avocado
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Chard
  • Corn
  • Leaf lettuce
  • Pumpkin
  • Winter squash- acorn, butternut, spaghetti
  • Radicchio
  • Red pepper
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potato
  • Tomatoes

Allium Family

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Scallions

Other

  • Artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Fennel
  • Green beans
  • Mushrooms, especially maitake and shiitake
  • Jicama
  • Okra
  • Parsnip
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Summer squash- yellow and zucchini

Fruits- 2-3 servings per day

Flavonoid Family

  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Cherries
  • Cranberries
  • Figs
  • Purple grapes
  • Plums
  • Pomegranate
  • Raisins
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

Carotene Family

  • Apricot
  • Cantaloupe
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Watermelon

Citrus Family

  • Oranges
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Tangerines

Other

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Pears
  • Pineapple

Beverages

  • Filtered water
  • Chai tea
  • Green tea
  • Herbal teas- ginger, chamomile, liver detox, slippery elm, rooibos
  • Vegetable juices
  • Coconut water
  • Almond milk
  • Coconut milk

Whole Grains- 1-4 servings per day

  • Whole grain breads
  • Brown rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Oatmeal
  • Quinoa

Nuts & Seeds1-2 servings per day

  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews
  • Flaxseeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Nut butters
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts

Legumes– 1-2 servings per day

  • Black beans
  • Chickpeas, hummus
  • Edamame
  • Kidney beans
  • Lima beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Tempeh
  • Miso soup

Cold-Water Fish– 3-5 servings per week

  • Salmon- wild
  • Sardines
  • Scallops
  • Tuna- eat sparingly due to high mercury content and unsustainable fishing practices
  • Cod
  • Haddock
  • Halibut
  • Trout

 Animal Foods2-4 servings per week

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Lamb
  • Turkey

Dairy– 1-2 servings per day, if tolerated

  • Butter
  • Cottage cheese
  • Eggs
  • Cheese- feta, goat, asiago, parmesan, romano, mozzarella
  • Kefir
  • Yogurt

Herbs & SpicesUse liberally

Fresh Herbs & Spices

  • Basil
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Ginger root
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Tarragon

Dry Herbs & Spices

  • Bay leaves
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Cumin
  • Oregano
  • Pepper
  • Thyme
  • Turmeric

Miscellaneous

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Maca powder
  • Dark chocolate
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Sea veggies- hijiki, nori, wakame, dulse
  • Olive oil
  • Salsa
  • Sea salt
  • Stevia
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup- grade B
  • Tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
  • Vanilla extract

Notes

  • Eat organic, fresh, seasonal produce as much as possible. Farmer’s markets are a convenient and cheap way to accomplish this.
  • Eat organic animal products and pastured/grass-fed, if possible. Full-fat dairy is preferable as well.
  • Wild-caught fish are usually preferable to farmed.
  • It’s all about quality over quantity. It’s going to be more expensive to buy organic, but well worth the additional costs.
  • Check the ingredients labels on all packaged goods- don’t buy anything with names you can’t pronounce.
  • Diversity of foods is key. Buy different fruits and vegetables each week for a varied nutritional profile.
  • Shopping primarily at Whole Foods and farmer’s markets will help make the above suggestions easier.

Reflections on a Cleansing Meal Plan

Spring has arrived! And with it, hopefully, a renewed desired to eat healthy. At least that’s what I was thinking. Though my eating habits never seriously stray into the realm of bad choices, I felt that my boyfriend, Greg, and I were due for a period of conscious clean eating. Nothing too extreme was necessary; this was not a true cleanse- we still ate food! I just wanted to help relieve some problems that were most likely stemming from food choices.

Specifically, Greg has been having some pretty severe gastrointestinal issues lately, which I suspect is a result of his dairy consumption… Actually, he’s had these problems for quite some time, and I am anxious to get to the bottom of it. So, I eliminated dairy to see if this is indeed the culprit. In addition, I basically took out any commonly allergenic foods, such as wheat, soy, and corn, in order to give the digestive system a rest. This is probably pretty obvious, but processed foods, sugars, coffee, and alcohol were also avoided. All animal products, with the exception of fish, were eliminated as well.

Overall, the purpose of this whole foods-based “cleanse” was to provide our bodies with an influx of nutrients through the consumption of organic, unrefined, alkalizing, allergen-free foods that are easily digested and absorbed by the body. Out with the crap and in with the nutrients! SO, I made this 5-day cleansing meal plan to make my goal an empirical, easily obtainable reality. First, let me go over several of the food choices listed on the plan. I want you guys to know there is a method (and reason) to my madness!

  • Smoothies: This is probably a pretty obvious one… These delectable treats are a great source of concentrated nutrients in an easy-to-digest form. Remember, you still have to “eat” your smoothie though! The more you chew your foods, and even liquids, the easier it is to digest them, allowing the body to focus on more important things, like immunity, detoxification, and energy production.
  • Oatmeal: Though this may seem like an unlikely food choice for a whole foods cleanse, I included it for its excellent fiber content and, to be quite honest, its ability to enhance my bowel movements exponentially. TMI. Also, I know some of you are probably anti-agave, so feel free to skip that ingredient and just add cinnamon. Or maple syrup, whatever 🙂 
  • Sardines, Salmon, and Cod: While this meal plan is mostly vegan, I thought adding a little fish into the mix would be good idea because of their high omega-3 content. These fatty acids are a powerful source of anti-inflammatory properties, which are important for me to consume due to my active lifestyle. I want to reduce the incidents of stiff and swollen joints as much as possible! In addition, there are virtually no other significant sources of protein in the diet, except nutritional yeast, and I didn’t want to go hungry (or increase the potential for succumbing to cravings). I don’t necessarily believe in starving oneself during a cleanse. 
  • Beets: These sweet, albeit messy root veggies contain a group of phytonutrients called betalains that have been shown to provide anti-inflammatory, detoxification, and antioxidant support. Detox and cleanse are two words that go hand-in-hand, so I obviously included lots of beets in the plan. And who doesn’t love red poop?! Sorry, there are way too many references to bowel movements in this post. 
  • Dulse: If you don’t know about the wonders of dulse (and sea veggies in general), then listen up! They contain pretty much every trace mineral known to man in super concentrated amounts. You only need a little sprinkle of dulse flakes… so put it on everything!
  • Cilantro: This is another potent detoxifying food. Cilantro can actually chelate (remove) heavy metals from your body so eat this tasty herb often for maximum benefit.
  • Soup/Broth: Liquids are easy for the body to digest and assimilate and soups/broths are mineral rich, warming, calming, and of course, cleansing!
  • Fruit: Though I didn’t want to over-do it with sugars, fruit is a natural source of the sweet stuff so I allowed a little into my plan. Also, fruit is a great snack and loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 
  • Various Veggies:The meal plan is predominantly a plant-based diet because these are the foods we need for cleansing/detoxifying the body. The more the merrier!
  • Chocolate: I know what you’re thinking… Chocolate?! Really?! This is definitely not a usual suspect when undertaking a cleanse, but I included it for several reasons. First, like I already said, I don’t believe in depriving or starving oneself when cleaning up the diet. Having a small piece of chocolate at the end of night was a pleasant reward for how hard we were working on eating optimally. Also, dark chocolate contains minerals and antioxidant properties, so the calories are actually quite nutrient-dense. Finally, recent research shows that chocolate is fermented in the gut by our friendly bacteria into usable antioxidants and fiber. Pretty cool, huh?!

Example of Shopping List

Yours doesn’t have to look exactly like this… but try to think lots of fresh. organic, veggies in a variety of different colors and shapes. Don’t just buy broccoli and carrots. Expand your horizons and try a few vegetables you’ve never bought before. Different vegetables have different nutritional profiles, so eating the rainbow is encouraged for maximum nutrient intake.

  • Ginger
  • Green onions
  • Lemons
  • Mushrooms
  • Cilantro
  • Spinach
  • Red pepper
  • Red onion
  • White onion
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Radishes
  • Mixed greens
  • Arugula/bitter greens
  • Carrots
  • Zucchini
  • Squash
  • Broccoli
  • Garlic
  • Potatoes
  • Avocados
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Nori sheets
  • Brown rice
  • Spirulina
  • Flax seeds
  • Canned salmon and sardines with bones (bones=calcium)
  • Miso paste
  • Chickpeas
  • Coconut oil
  • Chia seeds
  • Dulse flakes
  • Cod or other cold water fish
  • Almond milk
  • Hijiki

Strengths of Cleansing Plan

  • Lots of smoothies! I drink them regularly, but not necessarily daily, so it felt great to consume them every morning and notice the extra boost of energy they give me. The alkalizing properties of the veggies offset any excess acidity in the body.
  • Lots of veggies! Actually, that’s pretty much all I ate for the week. There are just way too many reasons why veggies rule to even explain… just eat them. They cleanse, nourish, detoxify, and improve overall health.
  • Lots of bowel movements! Geez, again with the BMs. However, with all the fiber I was consuming, its hardly surprising that this would be the case. If you have any issues with constipation, then this short-term diet is for you! Eating an abundance of vegetables, fruits, and non-glutinous grains is your healthiest and cheapest option in correcting this problem.
  • Some fish! I included three servings of fish for the week because of their lean, easily digestible protein, non-allergenic qualities, and potent anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Just to stress the point: Deprivation wasn’t my intention- eating a variety of the healthiest foods possible and eliminating all the crappy ones sounds more like it.
  • No meat! Though I have a new-found love and appreciation for carnivorous foods, I excluded them from the plan because of their acidic, digestion-challenged nature. I only had five days to really cleanse and detoxify my body, and keeping meat in the equation would hinder these efforts. Giving the digestive tract a little break every now and then is always a good idea. However, small amounts of pastured, organic meats and poultry can be a welcome part of one’s regular diet and is encouraged.
  • No dairy! It’s allergenic, irritating to the GI tract, constipating, acidic, and unnecessary. Not that I don’t eat it… I just consume in moderation and definitely think that complete elimination from the diet is essential during any period of clean eating. Also, Greg is likely lactose intolerant and NEEDS to give his system a break. I suggest that you do the same if you are prone to a dairy allergy or intolerance as well. Sometimes, if you are able to properly and thoroughly repair the gut, then you can eat dairy products on occasion even if they have caused you problems in the past. Here’s keeping my fingers crossed for Greg!
  • My health goals are being realized. I strive to live a positive, energetic, and comfortable life as much as possible and, though I make mistakes and bad decisions just like everyone else, I don’t make it a habit. The point of this cleanse was to inch a little closer to that goal, without killing myself.

Weaknesses of Cleansing Plan

  • The food items should have been more general. For example, there really was no reason to specifically list the vegetables needed for the lentil soup or sauteed veggies in coconut oil. When I was at the grocery store, I took pains to get everything on my list and in the perfect quantity. This was both time consuming and superfluous. Just buy whatever is in season, on sale, and/or tastes good to you, as long as its organic! However, some of the foods are listed for a specific reason, i.e., their detoxifying and antioxidant properties, and should continue to be explicitly stated on the plan.
  • I included way too many liquids. Did I really expect to drink 6+ glasses of water, hot water with lemon in the AM, 3 different types of tea, milk thistle seed extract with water, and apple cider vinegar in water before meals? Oh, and throw in a cup of miso soup or mineral broth and a smoothie while you’re at it. I was literally drinking something all day, every day. And urinating. A LOT. Frankly, it’s just not realistic. In the future I will limit the beverage intake to 1-2 cups of herbal tea/day and allow for less water consumption if broths, soups, and smoothies are on the menu.
  • There was way too much required prep time. Luckily, I had plenty of time at that point to prepare the meals, but someone with a hectic work schedule would definitely find this plan unrealistic to implement. However, making everything for the week on Sunday night is a possibility, as is including leftovers on the next day’s menu.
  • I wouldn’t recommend eating this way for long-term, simply because there is not enough protein. Add in some pastured meat, tempeh, organic chicken, and beans and you’re golden.

Overall, my experience with this cleansing meal plan was generally positive and left me with a greater sense of vitality and energy. There were a few improvements to my health that I noticed:

  • I felt whatever the opposite of bloated means. You know that feeling of “skinniness” you get when you haven’t eaten for awhile? Not that I’m encouraging such behavior, but you know what I mean. Well, that’s how I felt all week, even though I was actually eating quite a lot! This is because I wasn’t consuming allergenic, bloating substances, such as bread and cheese.
  • My energy levels were steady and high all day, every day during the cleanse. I believe this may have been because I wasn’t drinking coffee and, therefore, spiking my cortisol levels. These spikes will lead to an eventual crash and can affect one’s circadian rhythm. Also, eating such healthy foods certainly helped as well.
  • Though the first couple days were kind of rough, things improved each day from there on out. This is a pretty common occurrence when eating such a detoxifying diet because the body is flushing out all the built-up toxins, which is obviously going to feel a little unpleasant. Bear with it and keep in mind the ultimate reward. Sometimes things have to uncomfortable before they’re comfortable.
  • While I experienced gastrointestinal bliss, Greg wasn’t so lucky. I suspect this may have been because of his body’s need to adapt to the new foods he was and wasn’t eating; namely, the increase in veggie intake and elimination of dairy products. Sometimes adding vegetables to the diet in large quantities can initially cause bloating and gas, but this usually subsides after a few days, as it did for Greg. Also, when the body is used to eating an allergenic food, such as cheese, on a regular basis, it builds up a “tolerance” to such foods. When taken out of the diet, the results can initially be uncomfortable, but again, this is usually a short term issue. In addition, after suffering GI damage, it takes the body awhile to repair itself, especially when one is feeding it irritating substances at the same time. Simply eliminating allergenic foods for a few days isn’t necessarily going to fix things immediately. Healing the body may require a long term effort. In Greg’s case, cutting out dairy has been helpful in reducing indigestion symptoms, but hasn’t completely eliminated the issue. This goes to show the complexities of the human body; there isn’t always a simple solution to a problem. Back to the drawing board!

Eating as clean as possible was certainly beneficial and is something I plan on doing every few months now. I’ll just call it… health insurance!

Though I’m back to my normal diet, I still basically try to eat this way… primarily veggies, with small portions of meat and fish 3-4x a week, whole grains, and limited processed foods. The key to living a healthy lifestyle is consistency. I’m not saying you can’t eat the occasional slice of pizza or piece of cake. You just can’t eat it daily. And besides, eating good feels good. Give it a try and see with your own eyes, and healthier body.

Recipes

Coming soon!

When you eat healthy, you can climb mountains, no problem!

When you eat healthy, you can climb mountains, no problem!

Healthy Food Highlight: Sauerkraut

I never ate sauerkraut growing up as a kid. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED hot dogs, but the only condiment I allowed to touch my dog was bright yellow in color. I didn’t even want ketchup joining in the party. Unfortunately, I may have been missing out on some key digestive juices (literally).

This is a prime example of the importance of choosing quality over quantity. A tub of Vlassic sauerkraut isn’t the same as the homemade variety. Unless you put polysorbate 80 and sodium metabisulfite in your food of course, like Vlassic does. Plus, it’s more expensive and its been pasteurized, destroying all the valuable enzymes in the process. So, make your own. It’s cheap, easy, and kinda fun!

Sauerkraut starts out as cabbage and is transformed into the pungent probiotic through the fermentation process. The friendly bacteria that are created during this process aid in digestion, increase vitamin levels, produce a variety of beneficial enzymes, and promote the growth of healthy flora in the digestive tract. Basically, if you want solid digestion, eat homemade sauerkraut on the regular.

In addition to its wonderful gut-healing properties, sauerkraut is also a good source of vitamin C (as long as its not pasteurized; vitamin C is destroyed by heat) and may even contain cancer-fighting, immune system-boosting compounds.

If that’s not enough, raw cabbage juice (NOT sauerkraut) has been shown to be an effective treatment for peptic ulcers. Drinking this juice daily can clear up an ulcer in under two weeks!

Making Sauerkraut makes roughly a quart

  • 1 large head of cabbage
  • 2 Tbs. sea salt

Directions

  1.  Shred the cabbage and place in a large bowl or pot. Sprinkle the salt over the cabbage.
  2. Crush the mixture with your hands until the liquid comes freely out of the cabbage.
  3. Place a plate on top of the cabbage, then a weight on top of the plate. I use a mason jar filled with water.
  4. Cover the bowl with a cloth towel and leave out, unrefrigerated, on your kitchen counter. Check after 2 days and scoop off any scum that may develop, repack and check again every 3 days.
  5. The sauerkraut should be freshly fermented and ready to go in about 2 weeks, with its flavors maturing as it ages. Like wine, another one of my favorite things.
  6. Put sauerkraut, with its juices, in an air-tight container in refrigerator. It will keep for up to 6 months.
This is what it should look like during the fermentation process

This is what it should look like during the fermentation process

Now doesn’t that sound ridiculously easy?! There really are few things easier. If you decide to try it out, please comment in the box below and let me know how it went!

Additional Ingredient Suggestions

Follow the above recipe, then add with the salt:

  • 3 cloves of chopped garlic and a sliced onion
  • 1-2 sliced poblano peppers
  • 5 chopped Brussels sprouts
  • Handful of seaweed or any other vegetable

I like to take bites straight from the container, 5-10 minutes before a meal, in order to get my digestive juices flowing, so to speak. Of course, you can eat it with sausages and in reuben sandwiches, but cooking it will destroy the enzymes you worked so hard to create/ferment. The point is, use your probiotic-loaded kraut in a variety of ways- eaten cold for its nutritional status and eaten warm for its ideal accompaniment to certain dishes.

Hello Friends!

Thanks for checking out my new blog.  As a soon-to-be certified nutrition consultant, I’ve started this blog in order to spread my new-found nutritional knowledge to all you wonderful people.

But first, let me tell you a little about myself.  My journey to healthy living started 15 years ago, or so I thought.  After seeing a pamphlet about the inhumane practices occurring at slaughterhouses, I quit eating meat cold turkey (pun intended) and said I’d never look back. For the next 13 years, I was an adamant vegetarian and proud of it.  During this time, I felt like I was the healthiest person around, simply because I ate lots of veggies and minimal fat; however, I didn’t think to question the possible connection between my diet and the uncomfortable and seemingly random signs and symptoms my body was giving me. Some of these issues included: acid reflux, allergies, weight gain, digestive difficulties, unexplained aches and pains, intense food cravings, muscle weakness, horrible circulation, skin rashes, and unpredictable fatigue. As it turns out, I wasn’t very healthy at all.

So, about two years ago I decided that enough was enough and made a commitment to educate myself about nutrition and get to the bottom of what “health” food really entails. This lead me to Bauman College, a holistic nutrition school in Berkeley, CA, where my mind was, quite frankly, totally blown.  Whole milk dairy is superior to fat-free dairy?! Vegetarian diets can make one deficient in many nutrients?! Fat is GOOD for you?! Yeah, mind blown for sure.  It turns out I was doing it all wrong, with the mainstream media certainly helping to exacerbate all the incorrect assumptions I had regarding the meaning of “health” food.  As soon as I changed my diet and started eating for optimal health, pretty much all of my uncomfortable symptoms vanished, and quickly.  For example, I lost 7 pounds by simply ADDING more fat to my diet and eating more salads.

However, I was still wary about adding meat back into my diet, but after much contemplation, I decided to surprise my boyfriend, Greg, with a home-cooked chicken dinner. To say he was happily surprised would be an understatement.  I’ve been eating meat for about a year now and as it turns out, my body loves it and I didn’t even have any initial digestive issues!  I’m what I like to call an ethical omnivore, or someone who only eats sustainably and ethically raised meat products, and it is working out quite well for me these days.  I suppose you could call it the straw that FIXED the camel’s back.

My point is that we need to question the information we’ve been given regarding what’s healthy and what isn’t.  Every BODY is different and has different needs, so paying attention to your own body and being aware of what works and what doesn’t will help tremendously to improve overall health.  Through this blog, I’ll show you how to do this and make optimal health a reality for YOU.

I will be updating regularly, so check back often for interesting nutrition and healthy living information and tips, scrumptious recipes accompanied by (not-so-professional) pictures, tales from my salubrious life (again, complete with shitty pictures), motivational quotes and messages, discussions on food politics and controversies, my overly opinionated ramblings, and whatever else comes to mind.  Welcome and enjoy!!

“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.”

– Ann Wigmore

“The body is your temple.  Keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in.”

B.K.S. Iyengar