Let’s Talk About Salt

by: Ali Brown, RD, LD

Salt is a substance made of 40% sodium and 60% chloride. It has been around for thousands of years and and has been used for much more than flavoring food.

At one time, salt was so valuable that Ancient Greeks used it as a form of currency. In fact, the word salary comes from the Latin phrase salarium argentum, meaning “salt money”.

Salt was used for preserving food before canning, freezing, and refrigeration became common practice.

Salt has received a bad reputation over the past decade, due to its correlation with high blood pressure. However, sodium plays an important role in our bodies and we simply can’t live without it. The mineral is used to maintain proper fluid balance, regulate blood pressure, and make muscles (including the heart) relax.

 

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Healthy Americans advise individuals to eat no more than 2300 mg of sodium, or approximately 1 tsp of salt, each day. People who are at risk for heart disease and hypertension have further restrictions and are recommended to eat less than 1500 mg per day. Unfortunately, the average intake is about 3400 mg (almost 50% more than the recommendation).

So where is all this sodium coming from? Only 5-10% of sodium comes out of your salt shaker at home. Approximately 10% is found naturally in food. The rest is added to food during processing. Sodium can be found in foods that aren’t as obvious as pretzels and popcorn. You can find it in bread, pasta, canned foods, lunch meat, and sauces. For example, 1 teaspoon of hot sauce has 190 mg of sodium. While that doesn’t sound like a lot, consider this. Using 1/2 cup of the same hot sauce contributes 4560 mg of sodium to your diet – almost double the daily recommendation! An easy solution for this is to make your own dips and sauces. See my favorite hot sauce recipe below.

DIY Hot Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 18 fresh cayenne or jalapeno peppers
  • 1-1/2 cups vinegar
  • 2 tsp minced garlic

Directions:

  1. Remove the ends and seeds of the peppers
  2. Put all ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat until boiling. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 25 minutes.
  3. Move the ingredients to a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  4. Add back to the saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes.

 

Tips for reducing intake

  • Eat more fresh foods and less processed foods. Processed foods have salt added to them to extend their shelf life.
  • Drain and rinse canned foods whenever possible. This can reduce the sodium content of foods by more than 40%.
  • Stay away from low-fat products. When food manufacturers take fat out of a food, they look for other ways to make it taste good. This usually means adding salt or sugar.
  • Taste your food BEFORE using the salt shaker. A lot of people put salt on their food before knowing whether it needs it or not. Often times, food tastes just fine without the added sodium.
  • Read food labels! Products can have a wide variety of sodium levels in them. For example, crackers can have anywhere from 25 to 270 mg of sodium per serving. Find products with less sodium to keep on hand.
  • Use herbs and spices to season your food. I cannot talk enough about this! You can grow your own herbs at home, which are pretty to look at, freshen up your food, and make cooking a little more fun. Fill your spice rack with a variety of spices – and use them! Not only can you make food taste great without adding salt, but you can completely change the flavors of a dish that may have been getting boring. See below for my favorite spice blend and marinade.

Savory Spice Blend

  • 2-1/2 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp thyme

Lemon Pepper Marinade

  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Healthier chili recipe

by: Ali B, RD

In my house, chili is a hearty comfort food consumed in the fall and winter months. While chili isn’t necessarily bad for you, some bowls can add up to over 700 calories after toppings are added. While working with clients who are following detox diets we found that chili can be part of a healthy diet!

A few tips for keeping your chili “lean” include:

  • Watching your toppings: high-fat toppings like sour cream and cheese should be limited (or avoided if you can’t resist the temptation). There are plenty of other add-ins that can bring variety to your chili. Check out a few of our favorites here.
  • Choose a lean meat: at Feed Your Vitality we use 97% lean ground beef. Choose the leanest meat you can find at the store, or make sure to remove the fat from your pan before using.
  • Cut carbs: you can GREATLY reduce the carb content in your chili by eliminating the beans. We often have customers tell us that they don’t even miss the beans in our hearty chili.

Here is a basic chili recipe that has 165 calories per serving and can be eaten even on the most strict phases of diet plans.

chili-con-carne

Chili Con Carne

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef (97/3 if possible)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 6 cups diced tomatoes with juice (canned tomatoes are fine to use, just make sure there is no sugar added)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Brown beef with onions and spices over medium-high heat.
    Tip: if you do not have lean meat, brown the meat in a separate pan and drain before adding to onions.
  2. Reduce heat to medium, add tomatoes, and mix thoroughly.
  3. Simmer for 1 hour and adjust seasonings to taste.

Again, for more variety try including some of our favorite add-ins, listed here. Foods that are incorporated into the dish can be added with the tomatoes to simmer. Toppings should be added when the chili is served.

smoky-butternut-chili

Smoky Butternut Chili – includes butternut squash, green chilies, and smoked paprika. Topped with green onion.

turkey-chili

Turkey Chili – made with lean ground turkey instead of beef. Incorporates sweet potato, roasted poblano peppers, roasted red peppers, lime juice, and Mexican seasoning.

Paleo “Potato” Salad

One thing many people (including myself) tend to miss when going paleo is potato salad. This is especially true during the summer months when “barbeque season” is in full swing. Last year, for Feed Your Vitality’s 4th of July Family Feast we had a great paleo-approved barbeque featuring “potato” salad made with turnips. We fed it to a group of employees, spouses, and kids – and it received a stamp of approval from all! Follow the recipe below to enjoy this “potato” salad at home.

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Paleo “Potato” Salad

Ingredients

  • 2-1/2 pounds turnips
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup bacon crumbles (or 1/2 pound cooked and diced bacon)
  • 1/4 pound green onion

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel turnips and cut into bite-sized pieces. Coat with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and put into a baking dish. Bake until turnips become soft, approximately 30 minutes, mixing halfway through. Set aside to cool.

In a bowl, whisk together 2 Tablespoons olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, salt, pepper, and garlic. Once the ingredients are well mixed add bacon crumbles, cooled turnips, and green onion. Mix well and serve cold.

Healthy Game Day

by: Ali Brown, RD, LD

This Sunday at 5:30 our focus will be shifted to something very important: the Panthers and Broncos, booze, snacks, and friends. Unfortunately, our diet tends to be pushed aside and forgotten until we try to button our pants the next morning (ugh). I’m going to let you in on a little secret: being at a Super Bowl party doesn’t mean you can’t eat nutritious food. Crazy, I know! Below are some tips and tricks to have a healthy (and delicious) Super Bowl.

 

The first thing we’re going to talk about is the food you prepare for the big game (and don’t worry – none of these suggestions involve you munching on carrot sticks all night). If straying away from chili breaks your heart, head over to this blog post for ways to make it healthy. Here are our top 5 favorite healthy game day recipes:

#1. Spice things up with these Grain Free, Dairy Free Jalapeno Poppers

#2. If spicy foods aren’t your thing, try Garlic Rosemary Shrimp & Paleo Cocktail Sauce

#3. If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, these Glazed Chicken Wings may be up your alley

#4. For all the nacho lovers out there, you may be interested in these Sweet Potato Bites 

#5. And last but not least, a Feed Your Vitality favorite: Cauliflower Hummus

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Another tip: try not to overindulge on your booze. Unfortunately alcohol quickly adds calories without you noticing (5 light beers adds about 500 calories, 2 glasses of wine are over 400 calories and 3 rum and cokes have 500 calories). Drinking also leads most people to eat more and make undesirable food choices. Double whammy.

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One way to minimize calorie intake from alcohol is by choosing your mixers wisely! You can do this by choosing a low-calorie beverage without added sugars such as unsweetened tea or club soda. If you want more sweetness you may consider using SweetLeaf Stevia to flavor your drinks. For example, make your own rum and coke using rum, seltzer water, and about 15 drops of SweetLeaf Cola.

 

 

But hey, we’re all human. If you end up making undesirable food choices, just remember that it’s not the end of the world! Make up for it on Monday with an extra walk during your lunch break or a smoothie packed with fruits and veggies for breakfast.

 

As always, for more recipes and tips for healthy eating follow our Pinterest page.

When it comes to Cauliflower, I was a late bloomer…

CAULIFLOWERWhen I was growing up, I would only eat cauliflower if it was smothered in Campbell’s Cheddar Cheese soup. Working at FYV, I am learning that cauliflower can actually taste delicious all on its own, without requiring cheese topping! In addition, cauliflower is really good for you…it’s a cruciferous vegetable, like its cousins kale and broccoli. It’s packed with fiber – over 9 grams in every 100 calories – so it’s helpful for your digestive system. And not to get too technical, but research investigating inflammation related health issues have found that vitamin K, and glucosinolates / isothiocyanates in cruciferous vegetables, could provide benefits by reducing inflammation in the body.

Cauliflower is also very versatile, and you can eat it raw (the little florette makes it perfect for dipping – okay I still like it with a little cheese now and then!) or it can be made into hummus, pizza crust, soup or roasted/sauted by itself – there are so many opportunities for fitting cauliflower into your diet. Check out our pinterest page for recipes using cauliflower! Its fairly neutral taste makes it a great option for mixing with different spices to completely change its taste. For example, you can actually turn cauliflower into a paleo approved “rice” and depending on the seasonings you choose, you can add an Asian seasoning mix to make it taste like it is coming from your favorite Chinese restaurant, or you can add cinnamon or stevia for a sweeter option.  Whatever way you like cauliflower, it’s certainly not your garden variety “flower”.

How to make “rice” from cauliflower

  1.  De-stem a head of cauliflower and cut into florettes
  2. Place 6 –7 florettes into a food processor and pulse until cauliflower reaches a “rice” like consistency.  Remove the “rice” and repeat with remaining florettes.
  3. Place a medium stockpot on the stove and fill with 4 cups of chicken broth.  Bring broth to a boil. (If you are planning on adding stevia or sweeter spices, use water instead of chicken broth)
  4.  Add “rice” and cook for 1 minute.  Drain “rice” and season to taste.

A few cauliflower tips

  • Avoid spotted and “dull” cauliflower
  • Don’t overcook your cauliflower, as it will be mushy and not as tasty
  • We are still in cauliflower peak season – best from December through March!

5 Ways to Kick Off a Super Healthy Bowl of Chili

chili blogIf the Super Bowl is practically a national holiday, then chili would be its traditional meal. Everyone has their favorite chili recipe, and so we thought we’d offer up a few suggestions to make your bowl a little more paleo (anti-inflammatory) friendly. Yes, you would have to leave out the beans and any other inflammatory ingredients or toppings. But how about trying one (or more) of these delicious options to take their place?

1) Butternut Squash  Besides tasting great, this squash is known as a food that can actually help reduce inflammation in your body. So roast up some squash and toss it in with the chili. (Here’s how if you’ve never roasted squash before!)

Roasted Squash

2 lbs butternut squash (peel it, seed it and cut into chunks)

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt

Preheat oven to 425. Mix the butternut squash chunks in a bowl with the oil and a bit of sea salt. Spread the pieces on a baking sheet lined with foil.   Put in the oven, and turn the chunks every 10 minutes or so while baking – cook until brown and tender (about 30 – 35 minutes)

2) Sweet Potato  Same idea as the squash – roast it up and toss it in. Also, sweet potatoes are a good source of magnesium, which is known as the relaxation and anti-stress mineral (great for if you are a Seahawks or Patriots fan and the game is a close one!)

3) Avocado with cilantro and lime   This trio of toppings will not only taste great, but avocados keep your heart healthy and are high in the “good” fat which lowers your blood sugar level.

4) If you prefer White Chicken Chili to traditional red spicy chili, try adding in some cauliflower – we love cauliflower because its omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin K help keep chronic inflammation down…and we are all about reducing inflammation.

5)   Portabella Mushrooms and Colored Peppers Portabella mushrooms are not only a great source of selenium, copper and niacin, they are also very low in calories.   The peppers are also low in calories and high in vitamin C (especially red peppers) which can strengthen your immune system among other benefits!

So put on the chili, pour a gluten free beer, and enjoy the big game. Unfortunately at $4 million for a 30 second spot, you won’t see any Feed Your Vitality commercials during the broadcast (not quite in our marketing budget) but we wanted you to know that we’re thinking of you!

Bugs Bunny Would Love These!

carrot ashley

So today I was cutting through the Feed Your Vitality kitchen and I saw the biggest carrots I have ever seen in my life. And I wasn’t the only one impressed. Even the professional chefs in our kitchen who work with carrots all the time agreed that these were exceptional. I was inspired to take a picture so I could post it in our blog and convinced our beloved leader, Ashley Nanney, to model with them. (Unfortunately they are not record setting – according to the Guinness Book of Records, the heaviest carrot on record was over 18 pounds, and the longest carrot was over 19 feet!) In honor of these beautiful carrots, I am passing along a carrot recipe.

 

This recipe is from the PaleOMG website, one of our favorites!

Simple Ginger Carrot Soup

Ingredients

  • 2-3 cups chopped carrots (I used baby carrots)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 (14oz) can of coconut milk
  • ½ yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced (the more, the better)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Place a saucepan over medium heat, add in your coconut oil, garlic and onion. Cook until the onions are translucent.
  2. Then add in your carrots with broth and coconut milk along with ginger and a bit of salt and pepper.
  3. Cook until carrots are soft, about 12-15 minutes.
  4. Once carrots are soft, use an immersion blender to mix until soup is smooth and creamy. If you don’t have an immersion blender, add it to your food processor, like I did.
  5. Top with more fresh ginger and enjoy. I added some shredded chicken to mine and it was AWESOME.

Keep Calm and Drink Hot Chocolate

pic night fireplace

It’s definitely starting to look (and feel!) like the holidays here at Feed Your Vitality!  Two weeks ago I told you about our new home in the former Lemp Stable…this week I wanted to show you one of my favorite features here, the beautiful antique fireplace and our comfy cozy couches …it may be chilly and rainy outside, but it’s an awesome perk to be able to work here sitting in front of the fire.  And it inspired today’s post…how about some low carb, anti-inflammatory Hot Chocolate to help get you warmed up?  Here are a couple of different recipes to try!  (Note that if you are a big coffee drinker, you may like to try these recipes without the sweetness of the Stevia as a coffee alternative.)

 

Hot Chocolate

1 Tbs dark cocoa powder

1 Tbs palm sugar or a few drops of Double Chocolate Stevia

2 Tbs coconut milk pinch sea salt 1 cup hot water

Mix together in a mug!

Peppermint Hot Chocolate                                   

3 Tbs Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

1/2 cup Coconut Milk

1 cup boiling water

1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Peppermint Mocha Stevia (a couple of drops)

1 tsp Cinnamon

Add cocoa to boiling water and stir well, blending in the cinnamon and Peppermint Mocha Stevia.  Stir in the coconut milk and vanilla.  Pop it in the microwave to warm it up to your desired temperature!

FYV coffee

It’s the Apple of Your Pie…

pic pieStarting to plan that special holiday dinner?  How about including a delicious (and healthy!) option for desert?   Our Living Apple Pie is truly a crowd favorite…we call it a “living” pie because it’s made with all living ingredients and isn’t even cooked!

Our recipe is below if you would like to try making your own pie, but keep in mind that you can always order one from Feed Your Vitality.  In fact, for $199 we offer a complete anti-inflammatory family style holiday feast!  Our dinner serves 8 – 10 people and is conveniently delivered free to your home on December 23rd.  Let us do the cooking, all you need to do is heat and enjoy.    Click here for holiday menu

Now back to our recipe…

LIVING APPLE PIE

1-2 tsp Coconut oil (ghee, butter, or the oil of your choice)

2 cups of your favorite nuts (Mixed nuts, almonds, etc.)

Sea Salt

2 1/2 cups of medjool dates

1 orange peeled (no seeds)

filtered water

5 apples (I prefer Gala)

2 TBSP ground Cinnamon (apple pie spice blend works too)

Crust:  In a food processor, combine the nuts and a pinch of sea salt.  Pulse until the nuts are ground not quite to a flour.  The courser pieces offer a nice texture.  This is preference though.  If you are in a time crunch or only have almond meal, that works too.   If your dates have pits, remove them and discard.  Slowly add 2 cups of the dates to your nut mix until a thick “dough” is formed.  Rub coconut oil in the bottom of a pie pan for easy pie removal.  Place the ball of “dough” in the pan and press it out to form a pie crust.  It is sometimes easier to do if you dip your fingers in water to prevent them from sticking to the dough as you spread.

Sauce:  After peeling and seeding, place the entire orange into your blender and grind to a juicy pulp.  Add the remaining 1/2 cup of dates (you can also use honey or agave nectar, if you are low on dates.)  Blend thoroughly, adding filtered water if necessary to create a thick syrup.  Add the cinnamon and blend again.

Filling: Peel and core the apples and slice them however you wish.  I prefer thin rings.   Toss the filling and sauce together until completely coated and place the mixture in the pie crust.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate up to two days.

ALSO, another option you may want to try – cover with Enjoy Life Brand Chocolate Chips (they are dairy free, and can be found at the grocery store) and bake at 350 degrees until melted.  YUM…