Eat FAT for Better Health

I want to share some important information about fat and why you SHOULD be eating it – that’s right, I said you SHOULD be eating it! Fats have been vilified for decades but the low-fat/no-fat movement has played a major role in the increases we are seeing in obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases – AND we are seeing these health impacts showing up earlier and earlier. For example: type 2 diabetes previously known as adult onset diabetes, which is now being seen in children!

Healthy fats are ESSENTIAL for optimal health AND for weight loss! Health fats fight inflammation which is the precursor to every chronic disease! Also fats are more satisfying meaning they fill us up and keep us satisfied longer which means less snacking between meals.

Sources of healthy fats include avocados, nuts and seeds, and oils such as olive, coconut, walnut, or avocado oil. Other great sources of healthy fats include oily fish such as sardines, salmon, herring, trout, and mackerel, omega-3 rich eggs from free range naturally and humanely raised chickens, and naturally raised antibiotic and hormone free grass fed animal protein.

Check out this great video from Dr. Mark Hyman for more info then comment below with your thoughts!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEQdFxWQOhw

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Will The REAL Healthy Snack List Please Stand Up??

If you’re like me you may often find yourself digging through your desk drawer in the afternoon or aimlessly wandering around your kitchen opening and closing cabinets in the evening. What is it I am in search of?? Oh, right, a snack! Of course there are differing opinions on snacking – some say it’s bad and will keep your body from using existing energy stores (fat!), some say it will rev up your metabolism to help you burn more fat.

There are 2 realities we must face:

1. Each person has their own unique biology and metabolism that will or will not function ideally with snacks. Some people function best on 3 meals per day, period. Others will do better with 3 smaller meals and 2 or 3 snacks. We all have to find what works best for our body.

2. Sometimes we just get the urge to snack! When this urge strikes, it is best to address it head on with a good quality nutritious snack rather than try to squash this urge and berate yourself resulting in feelings of guilt and shame! Associate snacking with negativity and we’re likely to ride that shame spiral full speed into a bag or neon orange cheesy corn chips (you know the ones I mean!) or a box of those cookies you bought from the neighbor kid!

So what’s the solution?

The best place to start is with a Pantry Clean-out!! Go through your pantry, cupboards, drawers, and refrigerator. Throw away all the tempting garbage – your go-to treats and snacks that you know are bad for you but you simply can’t resist! You won’t have to resist them if they don’t exist!

Next, re-stock with healthy options so you have a selection of easy quick nutritious snacks on hand. Having options readily available will give you an immediate snack solution – you can feel good about what you are eating and avoid any negative snack guilt.

So now the big question – what are some healthy snacks I can stock up on? I actually did a search online for “Healthy Snack Options” and as I browsed through the results I was appalled at what some very well known sites were recommending as healthy options. One site listed a whole selection of packaged items without a single simple produce item among the options (umm, apple anyone??). I was so disturbed by what I found that I decided to start my own list.

Now this list is by no means a comprehensive list and some of the items may be deemed more or less healthy depending on your own nutritional beliefs, but this is a list of a lot of my go-to healthy snacks and other options that I would feel good about putting in my body and recommending to others.

And BTW – I don’t believe in low-fat or fat-free options. Good fats are essential for optimal health and generally when fats are stripped from foods they are replaced with the ultimate evil, SUGAR!

My Top 25 Healthy Snacks:
1. Apple slices with Peanut Butter
2. Grapes – fresh or frozen!
3. Banana – fresh or frozen!
4. Clementine, Orange, Tangerine
5. Any kind of berries!
6. Plain Yogurt – add your own fruit instead of getting the kind with syrup-y “fruit”
7. Celery sticks with Peanut Butter and Raw Honey
8. Cucumber slices with Guacamole
9. Cherry Tomatoes
10. Sugar Snap Peas
11. Raw veggies with Hummus (Carrots, Cucumber, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Bell Pepper!)
12. Almonds, Pecans, Cashews, Pistachios – go for raw unsalted
13. Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds – go for raw unsalted
14. Hard Boiled Egg
15. Cottage Cheese with Peaches or Berries
16. Sliced Melon (Honeydew, Cantaloupe, Watermelon)
17. Raisins, Prunes, other dried fruits – go for unsulfured
18. Fruit Smoothie – Banana / Mango is my favorite quick fix!
19. Pickles or Olives
20. Whole Wheat Pita with hummus
21. Whole Wheat Crackers with Sardines or Tuna
22. Whole Grain porridge – Brown Rice, Quinoa or Oats with Almond milk and fruit!
23. Homemade Trail Mix (I make mine with Cashew pieces, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Raisins, and a few Dark Chocolate chips!)
24. Date Balls (check out my recipe for Death by Fudgy Date Balls!)
25. Any other Whole Food or Whole Food recipe!!

Bag the guilt and enjoy a healthy snack!!

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Kale Berry Power Smoothie

This power smoothie is packed with nutrients! Kale is high in vitamins A, C, and K as well as manganese, the berries are a wonderful source of antioxidants, and the banana is a good source of fiber, vitamins B6 and C, and manganese. Aloe juice provides anti-inflammatory properties along with the flax oil’s essential fatty acids. I like the Raw Fiber brand because it includes a good dose of good bacteria so it does double duty for digestive health!

Handful of baby kale or Lacinato kale
5 oz frozen mixed berries
1 banana
4 oz aloe juice
4 oz water
2 tbsp flax oil
1 scoop Raw Fiber (or your favorite brand of fiber powder)

Blend until smooth and enjoy!!

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Killer at Large: Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat

This film focuses on the ever-expanding obesity epidemic and what we could be doing to combat this silent threat. Topics discussed include the school lunch program and government policies that are causing continuing health and weight issues. You will see the story of a 12 year old girl who undergoes liposuction to try to fix her weight issue, showing the disturbing rise in drastic weight-loss measures in younger patients. Includes interviews with public figures, authors, and experts including Bill Clinton, Ralph Nader, and Michael Pollan.

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Death By Fudgy Date Balls

This is a delicious no-guilt treat you can indulge in when sugar cravings strike.  There is no added sugar or other sweeteners – just nutritious real food!  I love, Love, LOVE these!  They do take a little bit of time to make, but trust me – it is SO worth it.  My husband thinks they look festive, so I decided I will be making these to share at Christmas time!  🙂  Multiply the recipe to make more for parties or just to store some extra in the freezer!

3/4 cup raw pitted Medjool dates
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup hemp hearts
1/4 cup cacao powder
1/4 cup gojiberries
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
approx 1/2 cup additional unsweetened shredded coconut for coating

Soak dates and goji berries in warm water for 10-15 minutes to soften. Add all ingredients into food processor and process until dates are all chopped and mixture is even.

Transfer mixture to bowl, then pour the additional 1/2 cup of coconut onto a plate. Scoop out spoonfuls of the mixture and roll into about 1″ diameter ball and roll in coconut to coat. Add more coconut to plate for rolling as needed.  Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.

Makes about 16 date balls.

Enjoy!

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I <3 My CSA!

Well, this summer I finally did it – I joined a CSA. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and as a member you commit to supporting a local farm for the season, in sickness and in health. This means if they have a plentiful growing season, you reap the benefits in an abundance of fresh, local, beautiful (and organic if you choose an organic farm!) nutrient rich produce. And if the season is more troublesome (flooding, droughts, etc.) then you may not see as much produce that season.

The purpose of joining a CSA is not only to support your local farmers, but also to provide them a guaranteed income to free them from the added stresses of a constant need to sell and let them focus on growing and harvesting the best produce they can. It’s a wonderful thing to get weekly updates with information on the upcoming harvests and the progress of the new crops and to know where your food is coming from.

Each week I pick up my box of produce, which has been jam-packed lately as we are in the peak of the season, and I am astonished by all of the beautiful veggies (and occasional fruit) that I find inside as I unpack it – it covers my kitchen counter! Veggies have taken over the refrigerator and I have had a wonderful time experimenting with veggies I have never tried before. Fennel, asian eggplant, radishes, and kholrabi are now some of my new favorites – I know it’s crazy, but no, I had never tried a radish until this summer! The tomatoes taste like the ones I remember from childhood, and the melons are so fresh and delicious!! I could really go on and on…

So needless to say, I am a convert. I have already signed up for my winter share and I’m looking forward to some new items to try in the winter crops. I highly recommend joining a CSA in your area. It will make you feel connected with your local farmers and inspire you to try new healthy delicious dishes!

If you live in the Twin Cities area and would like to learn more about the CSA I joined, Featherstone Farm, you can visit their website for more info: http://www.featherstonefarm.com/

Or check out this website to find a CSA in your area: http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

Here are a couple pictures from earlier in the season – the last few boxes have been even fuller!

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King Corn

In this informative film 2 college graduates move to Iowa to plant and grow an acre of corn and try to trace it from its origins to where it ends up in the food chain to help them understand how analysis of the carbon in their hair shows corn as the major source. Through their experience we get a behind the scenes view of the production cycle, from the purchase of GMO seeds, through the growing cycle with plentiful use of potent herbicides, to the harvesting and sale of their crop. As they learn the ins and outs of subsidies and supply and demand they also learn how this grain is so widely produced and used for a variety of products, from a multitude of food additives to ethanol to livestock feed, that is virtually impossible to trace from source to end product.

View the trailer at this website: http://www.kingcorn.net/

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Autumn Veggies with Butternut Squash

This is a wonderful veggie dish for a cool fall night. The colors of the veggies remind me of fall, and the squash gives the dish a bit more substance. Makes great leftovers too!

1 med butternut squash
1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp coconut oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 white onion, diced
1 cup broccoli florets
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/4 red cabbage, sliced
1 asian eggplant, cut in half and sliced
8 oz white mushrooms, quartered
2 tbsp coconut aminos
1/2 tsp coriander
fresh ground pepper
pinch of sea salt

Pre-heat oven to 375. Cut butternut squash in half and scoop out seeds. Place face up in pan and coat flesh with olive oil. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until flesh is tender and easily pierced by a fork. Let squash cool as you prepare remaining veggies.

In a large skillet heat coconut oil on medium. Add minced garlic and onions and cook for a few minutes while you are dicing the peppers. Add broccoli florets and bell peppers and stir. Slice up cabbage and add to pan and stir. Cut up asian eggplant and add to pan and stir, then dice mushrooms and add to pan, stir again. Next add coconut animos, coriander, salt and pepper and stir well to distribute seasoning.

The butternut squash should now be cool enough to handle. Make cuts into the flesh lengthwise about 1/2″ apart, but do not cut all the way through. Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh and add it to the skillet with the other veggies. Once you have scooped out all of the flesh stir the veggies and the cook for a few more minutes.

Makes 2-3 servings.

Enjoy!

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Tangy Home Pickles

This is a great way to use up those extra cucumbers from the garden! These pickle slices are tangy and crisp – a terrific summer treat!

In a small saucepan add the following ingredients, stir and heat on high to bring to a boil:
3 cups water
2 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup raw honey
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp turmeric

While brine is heating, prepare and add the following ingredients into 2 – 20 oz. jars (layer onion and cucumber slices to mix it up):
4 tbsp fresh dill, chopped (2 tbsp per jar)
4-6 garlic cloves, sliced (2-3 cloves per jar)
2 large cucumbers, sliced thin (divided between 2 jars)
1/2 red onion, sliced (divided between 2 jars)

Once brine starts to boil turn off the heat and let it cool a bit while you finish preparing the jars. Pour brine over contents in jars – fill to 1/2″ – 1″ below the top, or at least enough to cover the veggies. Let cool before covering, then store in the refrigerator. Allow pickles to sit a few days before enjoying.

Mmmmmm… Delicious!

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Save the Farm

After the LA riots the city gave the citizens of LA a plot of land in South Central LA to set up a community garden. Over 300 families used the land to grown organic produce to feed their families for over a decade, and were then given notice to vacate the land. This is about their fight to keep the land that the city sold back to the developer it was originally purchased from. This film shows how the community gardens changed their life for the better and you feel their heartbreak as their gardens are taken away.

To learn more about community gardens or to find or start one near you visit http://www.communitygarden.org/

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