by: Angelique Hicks
Kale, kale everywhere! Only a few short years ago I didn’t even know what kale was, and quite frankly, I didn’t want to know. Now this crunchy little guy is all over the place! Dare I say that I even saw a kale salad on the McDonalds menu??? That is progress!
When my health coach first introduced me to the idea of eating kale, I was like, awwwwe man…ick. I was gonna have to force this one down. Don’t get me wrong, I am a very adventurous eater and usually I am one to try anything once, but this wasn’t a one time shot she was asking for. It was a suggestion to add kale into my diet everyday or at least every week. Seriously?? Why, in all that is good and delicious, would I want to do that?! Well, let me tell ya….
I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of hearing about people, especially those close to me, coming down with cancer. Two words: Over. It. The good news? Kale contains numerous cancer-fighting substances and is loaded with compounds that are believed to have PROTECTIVE effects against cancer. That’s right, cancer protection in a leaf. Pretty cool, huh? I think so.
Kale is THE most nutrient dense food on the planet. Why is that important? Most of us are nutrient deficient. Meaning, we are in the red when it comes to giving our body the proper nutrients to function optimally. If we aren’t giving our body the necessary items to do it’s thing, the likely hood of disease is higher. If you want to get into the black, nutritionally speaking, eating kale is a great way to dramatically increase the nutrient content of your diet.
If cancer prevention isn’t enough, kale also aids in weight loss! Kale is very low in calories, but still provides significant bulk that helps you feel full. And despite the fact that kale is low in cals, it contains protein and fiber, both considered important nutrients when it comes to losing weight. A cancer fighter AND a weight loss aid? Kale has it goin on!
But Angelique, how in the heck do I use kale in recipes? Isn’t it tough and tasteless? Why, no dear reader, it’s actually neither of those things if prepared properly. To help you transition into your love of kale, here is a link to my favorite massaged kale caesar salad: http://www.annies-eats.com/2013/04/29/massaged-kale-caesar-salad/. This is a great recipe that is super easy and amazingly delicious! This is only a jumping off point though. The possibilities are endless. You can put kale in your smoothies, soups, salads, stews, eggs, and wraps. It is versatile and holds up really well in most dishes.
So hop on the kale train and take it for a ride! You may find that it actually becomes your new favorite vegetable. I know it did for me! Toot toot!!
A new year means new resolutions, and I don’t know about you, but to me the start of the school year feels as much like a new beginning as January! My kids go back to school, we settle back into routines, and it’s time to renew good habits and move past the temptations and unhealthy treats that so often accompany summer vacation. My “resolution” is to make a commitment to an anti-inflammatory lifestyle for myself because I now know that I genuinely feel better when eating healthy… I also like the idea of my family eating healthy dinners to ensure that they get at least one “good” meal in the course of the day. And while the schedules and routines that come with a new school year can be positive in many ways, it can also make it difficult to actually prepare these healthy meals when trying to get home from work, pick up from soccer practice, help with homework, run to the grocery store – and on and on! Feed Your Vitality can empathize with this challenge and so we are excited to offer Family Style packaging. Each Family Style meal is designed to feed four people for $42.99 We sincerely hope this will help busy families – let us come up with delicious ways to get dinner on the table (loaded with vegetables and protein!) My kids are always asking me to bring home meals from work – a definite perk to working here at Feed Your Vitality, to be sure! It is hugely satisfying for me to hear them say “I love that Indian Chicken Curry – when can we have that again?”
We would love to hear your feedback, and especially would love to hear about your kids and their favorite Feed Your Vitality dishes! (The picture here is of my son Danny from a family outing this summer – and by the way, his personal favorites are the Pineapple Jerk Chicken and the Asian Seasoned Turkey with Green Beans and Riced Cauliflower!)
While my kids are just finishing school for the year, Feed Your Vitality is delighted to tell you we are just getting warmed up with some awesome cooking classes for the summer months! To sign up for these classes, just go to our website, click on the Classes tab, and check out our calendar. All of these classes will be held at Feed Your Vitality, 1821 Cherokee Street, 63118. If you haven’t seen our beautiful new space, check it out here
And here is where you can register for any of our classes! FYV Class Registration
Our classes are taught by either Ashley Nanney, CEO of Feed Your Vitality OR our new instructor Angelique Hicks! Angelique is an IIN Holistic Health Coach, and has a passion for helping busy women lose weight and feel great without sacrificing the fun in life! She attained her education from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition where she was privileged to learn from many leaders in nutrition and eating behavior, including Dr. Mark Hyman, Geneen Roth, David Wolfe, and Andrew Weil. It is Angelique’s mission to help those who have struggled with their weight, as well as clear up the confusion of what to eat among the countless diets out there. She encourages balance, in all areas, when striving for a life you love.
Are you interested in expanding your healthy dinner options? Our first Paleo/Anti-Inflammatory class is 5 Quick and Easy Make Ahead Freezable Meals. Why prepare 5 different meals on 5 different days? This class is designed to teach you how to shop, prep, prepare and store 5 delicious meals, all at the same time! This class will be held on Wednesday, May 27th. Can’t make it that evening? It’s offered again on Wednesday, June 24th!
Are you looking for new ways to jazz up your salads? Then you may want to attend our Paleo/Anti-Inflammatory Sassy Summer Salads on Thursday, May 28th. Tired of bringing the same old thing to your pot luck or family dinners? Join us in creating new and refreshing, healthy salads for your next BBQ or gathering. Enjoy generous samples and learn creative ways to turn your boring veggies into delicious dishes that will have even the pickiest eaters wanting more! Recipes include Massaged Kale Caesar Salad, Thai Crunch Salad and Bacon Lime Sweet Potato Salad.
If you’re up for a fun and tasty Friday evening out, join us on June 19th for our Must.Have.Chocolate… Oh, and Wine! This Paleo/Anti-Inflammatory class provides the opportunity to enjoy samples of three different types of chocolate desserts paired with a hand-picked wine for each recipe. Who says a healthy lifestyle can’t include chocolate? All recipes are dairy-free, refined sugar-free, grain-free, corn and soy free! Recipes include Cashew Butter Cups, Raw Chocolate Pudding, and Fudgy Brownies. This class costs $45.
Are you interested in making Paleo Dips and Sauces? Learn new techniques for your old favorites. Using all Paleo ingredients, these recipes are so delicious, that going back to your old ways would be unthinkable! Recipes include Paleo Hummus, Cashew cream and BBQ sauce. This class costs $35 and is held on Wednesday, July 22nd.
While most of our classes are Paleo/Anti-Inflammatory, we are excited that on Wednesday, June 17th we will be hosting Simple Recipes for Phase 1 class – this was designed to help you connect with others on the journey to wellness and teach the basics of oil free, low calorie, simple recipes that are perfect for the most restrictive phase of a variety of detox and weight loss anti-inflammatory plans including SHAPE ReClaimed, VLCD, hCG and others. Can’t make it June 17th? You are in luck! We will have this same class on July 15th as well! Doors open at 6:30 pm and it costs $35.
In addition, we can offer the following classes to suit your schedule – for groups of 10 or more. If you have a group and would like to set up a time, we would be happy to schedule a class!
- SHAPE – Deserts and Treats for Phase 1, SHAPE Transitioning to Phase 2 Recipes for Success
- Paleo/Anti-Inflammatory – Making Vegetables Fabulous
- Anti-Inflammatory Baking Classes – Gluten, corn, soy, dairy, refined sugar and grain free recipes – Living Apple Pie, Chocolate Lovers Only, Grain Free Bread Basics, Cookies 3 Ways
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information!
Are you sometimes sad when you finish your delicious Feed Your Vitality Paleo or SHAPE meal and have just an empty dish in front of you? Do not be down because you still have one of our awesome and versatile containers that you can use over and over again in countless ways! First, they are freezer and microwave friendly and 100% BPA free. Did you know that they are also dishwasher friendly? If you find you have more containers than you need, please feel free to return them clean and empty to FYV; we then donate them to a local organization, Meals Do Matter. Just last weekend this group was able to use some of the donated containers for soups and chili that they made and froze and now have readily available. Meals Do Matter delivers meals (in their words) “to brighten someone’s day and lighten their load during a temporary struggle, i.e. sympathy, surgery, recovery, rehab, new baby, hospice, broken bone or broken heart, new job, loss of job, new house, relocation, financial crisis, chemotherapy, college or chaos!” To find out more about this organization, check out their website http://www.mealsdomatter.org.
However, if you do choose to keep some of the containers for yourself or your friends, here are some of the ways that we use them around my house!
Office or School supplies
Pack a lunch
Small first aid kit
Hold nails, screws, etc. in our tool bench
Wrapping small gifts
Dog food & biscuits (also a great portable water bowl to bring with on the road!)
My daughter’s hair bows and headbands
And many more!
So how about you? Do you have any ways that you like to re-use your Feed Your Vitality containers?
I recently wrote a blog about natural sweeteners; it was in the context of how a paleo/anti-inflammatory diet does not include sugar BUT suggested some natural sweeteners we can use instead (honey, dates, molasses, maple syrup and Sweetleaf Stevia.)
I did not mention the flip side of these natural sweeteners that are allowed, in moderation, in a paleo/anti-inflammatory diet…that would be the artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) so common in today’s food and beverage industry. Recently I read two articles (“Sugar Sham” and “Evaluating Sweeteners”) by Linda A. Frisch, one of the founders of SHAPE ReClaimed. I can’t tell you how impactful reading these articles was to me. Linda graciously allowed me to talk about her articles in this blog, and I am truly grateful to her.
The articles focus on three artificial sweeteners (saccharin, aspartame and sucralose) and HFCS, and their contribution to our nation’s declining health. It was eye-opening to learn how much sweeter these manufactured sweeteners are compared to sugar (sucrose) (aspartame 200x sweeter, sucralose 600x sweeter) and the science behind these chemicals. And it was disturbing to learn that bottom line, the human body can’t process them all. HFCS is another sugar alternative used by the food industry and its inexpensive cost means that it is being used more and more (sometimes combined with artificial sweeteners) and is often linked to the growing obesity problem in this country. Another fact I hadn’t considered was that while product packaging may say “sugar free”, it may still contain artificial sweeteners – once again, a great reason for reading those nutritional labels! I strongly urge everyone to read both of these informative articles; they are a very compelling argument for avoiding these three artificial sweeteners! Sugar Sham +
And just a reminder, you can hear the founders of the SHAPE ReClaimed program, Dr. Todd and Linda A. Frisch at the upcoming SHAPE Warriors event here at Feed Your Vitality on Saturday, May 2nd! It is an amazing opportunity to hear them speak in person and also have the opportunity to engage in questions and answers. It will be a full day packed with great information, a delicious SHAPE approved lunch prepared by Feed Your Vitality chefs, and interaction with other SHAPE Warriors. The cost is $50, and you can register by calling 636-207-6600 and ask for Natalie!
What is the best part of a road trip? Well to me, it is listening to my favorite tunes, and munching on favorite snacks along the way. On my recent spring break trip to Texas, I wanted to stay paleo-compliant, but still have some options, so here are some suggestions for your next road trip adventure…and just a reminder – some of these are truly meant to be “treats” (vacations are for splurging a bit!) and not recommended for your daily diet.
- Raisins – They are good for you AND good to eat! Raisins are packed with anti-oxidants, fiber and potassium, and come in little boxes that are handy to carry around when you need a quick energy boost.
- Fresh fruit – We found many larger gas stations along the way had bananas and apples, and of course you can always pack up some of your favorites to bring along, especially if you have a cooler to keep grapes, cut melon, etc. cold.
- Pork Rinds – Here is a snack that feels more like a gas station / road trip kind of treat! Surprisingly pork rinds (get the kind with no fancy flavoring – make sure to check the label) are paleo-approved, and a good option when you are craving chips or pretzels. In fact, they have 9x the protein and less fat than potato chips (in a 1 oz sample there were 0 carbs, 17 grams of protein and 9 grams of fat – and of that fat, 43% was unsaturated.) They can even be dipped in hot sauce for a little extra flavor!
- FYV Granola – Did you know that our Feed Your Vitality granola is considered extremely addictive and delicious? It includes nuts, coconut, honey and all kinds of healthy ingredients. Stock up and include this in your bag of treats for the car!
- Nuts – Another staple that you can easily find while you make stops along the way…just be sure to stay away from peanuts and go with natural, unsalted almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, etc. Even a handful will provide protein and fiber and help fill you up!
- Jerky – Sometimes you just need something more substantial on your trip, and jerky is a solid choice – it is high in protein and doesn’t raise your insulin levels. You need to carefully check the labels here though to ensure a brand that isn’t full of high sodium ingredients – look for natural ingredients. FYV sells BBQ Beef Jerky and BBQ Turkey Jerky – these are healthier choices, so you may want to order some before you go. Somewhere in Oklahoma or Texas we passed a road side stand selling homemade buffalo jerky and my husband offered to stop…unfortunately I am not as adventurous as some of my co-workers (Ashley for example has tried everything from antelope jerky to ostrich jerky!) and I was very content to nibble on my turkey jerky as we passed on by the buffalo jerky stand…
- Hard boiled eggs – Not much simpler than this one, and another great way to get some protein. Sarah, our kitchen manager, said she loves to bring these on trips. And you may find some hard boiled eggs at some of the larger gas stations along the way.
- Unsweetened Applesauce – Last week I said that this is one of my new favorite snacks. I brought a little six pack of these (like the kind you would put in a school lunch) – just don’t forget some plastic spoons!
- Freeze dried Fruit – Many stores now offer freeze dried fruit in all kinds of varieties; I’ve seen apples, strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, mango and my very favorite, pineapple (the little pieces are a great substitute for candy!) Again it is important to check the label to make sure there is no added sugar.
- Paleo muffins, cookies, brownies etc. – Okay, these would be more difficult to find along the way. Get organized before you hit the road, and order a few of your favorites from Feed Your Vitality. You will be glad you did when you get a craving for something sweet!
We’re already planning our summer vacation road trip! Do you have any suggestions for treats that you like to bring with you? Let me know!
When I began working at Feed Your Vitality, I was a little concerned that Ashley would insist I adapt a paleo lifestyle (and immediately came to realize, that is so not Ashley’s style!) And as I worked here longer, and learned more about the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet, the idea of attempting a 30 day challenge was intriguing, but scary. Almost everything I ate was bread, waffles and cereal; pretzels (every kind you can think of!) were pretty much their own category in my personal food pyramid. A 30 day Paleo or some other type of diet/lifestyle modification with a strict set of rules and a goal at the end of cleansing your system, or detoxing from unhealthy habits sounded great for other people but I doubted I could do it myself. However when a couple of co-workers decided to take the Paleo Challenge recently, I decided it was time to get off the sidelines and jump in the game.
We quickly realized a few key things…having each other as support is key. We set up a group text and encourage / occasionally shame each other with pictures of when we are choosing wisely, and pictures of when we are being tempted. Now you would think (and you would be correct!) that working at a Paleo delivery food company is a pretty ideal place to be working when going through a Paleo challenge! We have the opportunity to eat the delicious meals that have already been prepared and that we KNOW are within the guidelines of no dairy, no wheat, etc. And let’s face it, no one is going to come in here and put a doughnut on my desk that would tempt me! BUT outside the nurturing shelter of the Feed Your Vitality space is a big world filled with lots of other distractions, meals to prepare for family members, and fun social events packed with not-paleo-approved food (Trivia Night, anyone?)
So we learned it is also helpful to be organized with your food options. We have all found it helpful to keep some Paleo meals from Feed Your Vitality at home for dinners. Snacks are another important element to have thought out and on hand to avoid slipping. Nuts are a great option for snacking, as is fresh fruit, vegetables and a slice of your favorite lunch meat. It is gratifying when you can find a “legal” option for the food you are craving. What sounded totally unappealing at the beginning – unsweetened applesauce – is now actually something I find myself looking forward to, especially sprinkled with cinnamon. Surprisingly, that really does seem to satisfy me when I think I want something “sweet”.
Speaking of sweet, Ann here in the office surprised us today with a yummy treat to start off our work week….we are about half way through our challenge and are going to celebrate! You truly cannot believe that something this delicious is made with all paleo ingredients. My picture does not do it justice!
(Ann found this recipe in Health Magazine, March 2015, and was inspired to try it, and we are reviewing it with 5 stars and thumbs up from all!)
THE ULTIMATE UNBAKED BROWNIE
Prep: 15 minutes
Chill: 2 hours
Yield: 16 brownies
2 1/2 cups loosely packed pitted dates
1 1/2 cups walnuts (can substitute unsweetened coconut flakes if you don’t want nuts!)
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp vegetable oil or melted coconut oil
- Combine dates, walnuts, 6 Tbsp cacao powder, 1 1/2 tsp vanilla, 2 tsp water and salt in a food processor. Process until completely smooth.
- Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking dish, or line dish with parchment or waxed paper. Transfer dough to dish. Press dough very firmly into dish with your hands until dough is evenly distributed.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup cacao powder, remaining 1/2 tsp vanilla, maple syrup and oil. Stir until mixture forms a paste (this is the frosting). Spread paste evenly over dough in baking dish. Refrigerate brownies for at least 2 hours to set, then cut into squares.
Refrigerate any leftovers in a covered container for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 2 months.
What do you do when you are trying to live an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, and are eating the foods you are supposed to eat, but want to sweeten things up on occasion? It gets confusing at times because there are so many thoughts on what is an “approved” natural sweetener…here are five suggestions for you to try! As with other paleo type foods, the less processed the better and you will see that theme with the sweeteners below:
Honey – Throughout history, civilizations have used honey to sweeten food. Some cultures even considered honey to have medicinal value for healing many maladies. Now, modern medicine agrees that honey’s properties can be anti-inflammatory and rich in antioxidants. Keys are to buy organic and raw, and darker colored honey is considered to be healthier. Think honey from the local farmer’s market instead of the highly processed honey at the supermarket. Some people believe that eating local honey can be an immune booster for pollen allergies.
Maple Syrup – The Indians were producing maple syrup in North America long ago as their own “natural sweetener”. While syrup comes from a tree and does provide nutrients, it becomes less “natural” when over processed at high temperatures and additional ingredients are added. If possible, purchase from small farmers to avoid the additional processing.
Dates – This “natural candy” is a fruit and contains antioxidants but it is best to go for the plain dates (for example, Medjool dates) instead of the prepackaged ones with additional sugar or processing. It can be a great addition to your smoothie (just remove the seed first!) or chopped up in paleo “cakes” as a sweetener.
Molasses – Some consider this to be the best of the natural sweeteners because it requires minimal processing and retains its healthy nutrients. It is especially popular for baking. There are many product options out there and the organic blackstrap molasses is considered one of the most natural.
Stevia – This is actually an herb and the leaves of the plant provide the sweetener. While you can crush the leaves and use them directly, the more common forms are powdered or liquid. There are a variety of different brands and some strong opinions in the Paleo world about which ones are actually still stevia after the processing. Here at Feed Your Vitality we use Sweetleaf Stevia drops (and we actually sell them as well.) They are a pure extract from the plant, and come in different flavors to enhance drinks such as coffee, water and tea.
Bottom line, moderation is key with any of these sweeteners, and remember that too much sugar = too much sugar, even if they are from a natural source.
When on an anti-inflammatory diet, you have to give up wheat flour, which means no traditional bread, muffins, cake, etc. However almond flour can come to the rescue if you find yourself craving bakery treats! And fyi, almond flour wasn’t something newly created just as a trendy substitute for wheat…the French have traditionally used almond flour for some of their most popular treats, including favorites such as macaroons and marzipan.
Here at Feed Your Vitality, we have a special baking room and use almond flour to make brownies, muffins, fruit bread, rosemary bread, even a special little chocolate cake! Check out our website www.feedyourvitality.com if you would like to try some almond flour products without having to bake them at home…or get in your kitchen and try baking with almond flour yourself – let us know how your creations turn out!
I thought I would pass along some “scoop” about almond flour!
Almond flour vs. almond meal – The flour is made from blanched almonds – no skin. The meal is ground from whole almonds. Almond meal has a stronger taste and is similar in consistency to cornmeal; it may be better to use as breading or topping on casseroles than in baking. Some people are extra sensitive to the lectins in the skin of the nut and it can actually increase inflammation in the body…if this is an issue for you, be sure to use blanched almond flour.
There can even be a big difference between different brands of almond flour and you may need to experiment. Many bakers believe the finer the grain, the better your baked goods will turn out. You can get almond flour from so many sources, from Bob’s Red Mill, to our local supermarket, to ordering online. It can be expensive. Online options may provide a better price, especially if you buy in bulk.
Cooking with almond flour is different than cooking with wheat flour, so you are better off using recipes specifically calling for almond flour. Don’t just substitute almond flour for wheat flour in a recipe. Due to its different consistency, almond flour can’t absorb liquid in the same way as wheat flour. It also tends to burn easier, so the recipe may require a lower oven temperature and need to bake longer.
Just because almond flour is paleo doesn’t mean it is low calorie. In fact it has more calories than wheat flour (but the calories you’re eating are full of protein and vitamin E.) Blood sugar doesn’t tend to rise as fast after a meal made with almond flour because it is lower in carbs and sugar…this makes it a better option for diabetics. But moderation is key with these treats if you are worried about calories.
And lastly, I want to suggest a gluten free flour option for people who have a nut allergy (like me!) and can’t use almond flour. Think.eat.live is a local St. Louis company that has developed Sunflour™ – a flour made from sunflower seeds, and it is gluten AND nut free. In addition to their flour, they also sell product mixes for brownies, muffins, pancakes, etc. And oh by the way, they are delicious! (Just be sure to double check the ingredient list to make sure the product you choose is paleo friendly if that is important to you.) Check out their website www.thinkeatlive.com for more information…and keep in mind that Feed Your Vitality carries some Think.eat.live products, and we would be glad to deliver them to your door!