52 anti-inflammatory diet tips

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by: Ali B, RD, LD

Anyone starting a paleo/anti-inflammatory diet can tell you that it’s not easy work. Since we opened six years ago, Feed Your Vitality has had a mission to help you reach your health goals in any way possible. If you follow us on social media, you may have noticed that our new year’s resolution for 2016 was to post 1 anti-inflammatory diet tip each week for the whole year. It took a little work, but we were successful! Here’s a compilation of all 52 tips:

  1. Don’t let yourself get hungry. It’s no secret that we tend to make poor food decisions on an empty stomach. Eat regular meals and keep snacks on hand everywhere you are – almonds in your car, fruit on your desk, chopped veggies in your fridge, and pumpkin seeds in your bag. When you stay full on good, healthy food you are more likely to be successful.
  2. Spice up your life! Food tastes much better when seasoned properly. Not only that but adding new spices to meals will add some variety to dishes that may have been getting repetitive.
  3. Never skip breakfast. Your mother always told you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Research has shown that people who eat breakfast tend to eat fewer calories and fat during the day than those who opt out of a morning meal. If you are rushed for time try making breakfast the night before or having a Feed Your Vitality meal on your way to work. Check out this blog post for breakfast ideas for when you’re on the run.
  4. Try new recipes. There’s nothing better than finding a recipe you’ve never tried before! You can find thousands of anti-inflammatory recipes online. Try something new once a month to keep yourself excited to eat healthy food.
  5. Make adaptations to menu items so they fit your meal requirements. We know hat it’s impossible to eat every meal at home. Plan ahead and find substitutions that can be made so that going out doesn’t have to be a setback. Here are a few suggestions:
    1. Take the bun and cheese off your sandwich and substitute broccoli for fries.
    2. Order an “unwich” at Jimmy Johns – your favorite sub held together by a lettuce wrap instead of bread.
  6. Don’t let setbacks ruin your progress. Mistakes are inevitable. Our advice: get over it ASAP! Don’t let one bad meal or snack ruin an otherwise healthy day (or week). Get back on track and make your next meal count.
  7. Embrace variety. The worst diet mistake people make is falling into a strict routine. Chicken and vegetables for dinner every night can get old pretty quickly, which can make falling into old habits easy and tempting. Add variety to your diet by preparing your food different ways, trying new recipes, or experimenting with a piece of produce you’re unfamiliar with.
  8. Don’t focus on the numbers. When you are eating healthy you usually expect to lose weight – and most of the time you will. Don’t get caught up on the scale. Your weight can fluctuate for dozens of reasons, and you shouldn’t get discouraged because you’re at a plateau or gained a few pounds. The important part is how you feel. Since you’ve started this lifestyle you probably notice that you have more energy, less gastrointestinal irritation, and fewer allergy symptoms.
  9. Remember why you started. We all know that following an anti-inflammatory diet can be challenging at times. But remember why you started in the first place. Make a list of reasons you began and a list of the benefits you have reaped. Keep these reasons handy, so that whenever you’re second-guessing yourself you have a reminder of how important this lifestyle is to you.
  10. Find a support system. Let someone know what you’re doing and why. Your loved ones will probably have questions, which may be irritating to explain over and over again. However, once people understand what you are up to, you will have a great group of people to share recipes and talk about your challenges with.
  11. Be mindful. When you eat, eat. Don’t watch TV, read a book, talk on the phone, or write an email. Pay attention to what you are eating. Notice the flavors. Look for cues that you are full, or acknowledge that you need more.
  12. Shop in the perimeter of the store. This is where all of the fresh, unprocessed food is stored. Though many processed foods are not allowed under anti-inflammatory guidelines, some are. However, we want to minimize our intake of those foods and focus on fresh protein and produce.
  13. Learn how to make anti-inflammatory baked goods. Let’s face it, we can’t completely get rid of a sweet tooth. Instead of eating inflammatory products, make your own anti-inflammatory ones! There are thousands of recipes online food cookies. cakes, muffins, and pastries that follow all of the anti-inflammatory guidelines. Check out our Living Apple Pie recipe here.
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  14. Save money by growing your own food. If you have a small amount of land, or even a few pots, you can grow some of your own produce at home. Simply go to a local hardware store, nursery, or anywhere else that sells produce or seeds. Plant them in the ground or a pot, water them regularly and enjoy the end product.
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  15. Be proactive. Be smart and plan ahead when it comes to what you are eating. If you know you are going to a social gathering, make your own appetizer or side dish that is anti-inflammatory. Here are some of our favorite “game day” dishes.
  16. Eat omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fats help the body fight inflammation and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Sources of omega-3 fatty acids include nut and fish oils, fatty fish, flax seed, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and canola oil.
  17. Read ingredient lists. You simply cannot know if a packaged food is allowed under anti-inflammatory guidelines unless you read the food label and ingredient list. Look for foods that are free of gluten, beans, soy, dairy, added sugars, and corn.
  18. Prepare your meals in advance. If you have a few hours free during the week or over the weekend, use that time to prepare your meals in advance. Grill multiple chicken breasts, prepare salads, boil eggs, cut vegetables, and do whatever else you can in advance. That way, when your week gets busy you will still have healthy meals available. Here is a guide to making 5 meals in 1 hour.
  19. Make popsicles. Summer months are perfect for a cold, sweet treat. Unfortunately, many popsicles and other frozen treats have ingredients that cause inflammation. Our solution? Make your own! Blend some fresh fruit and almond milk, put them into popsicle molds, and place them in the freezer overnight or until solid.
  20. Second-guess your condiments. Ketchup, BBQ sauce, mayonnaise, and other condiments are something we don’t usually give much thought to. However, most of these foods usually have gluten or added sugar as a filler. Check the labels on the condiments in your refrigerator. If yours have these ingredients, look for a brand that is anti-inflammatory or make your own!
  21. Add some variety to your beverages. Our bodies require a lot of water to function properly. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to drink the recommended amount. Try adding flavored Stevia to tap water, seltzer water, or club soda. Just make sure the carbonated beverages are free of added sugars and artificial sweeteners.
  22. Grow your own herbs. You can grow herbs in a pot in your home, on your patio, or in the ground. Their seeds can be purchased inexpensively and each plant produces much more than you can imagine. Use them fresh when you can. Before they go bad, freeze them in ice trays with olive oil. Transfer them to a plastic bag after they are frozen and use in your cooking all year.
  23. Eat your calcium. Dairy products can cause inflammation, making them restricted on an anti-inflammatory diet. It is important that we still get calcium in our diets to prevent osteoporosis. Food sources of calcium include almonds, kale, broccoli, molasses, salmon, figs, chia seeds, and collard greens. Get ideas for dairy-free calcium sources here.
  24. Do physical activity. It’s true that an anti-inflammatory diet reduces the risk of chronic disease. Unfortunately, that doesn’t give us a reason not to exercise. It is recommended that all adults get 150 minutes of physical activity each week.
  25. Know when to buy organically. Deciding when to purchase organic can be tricky! An organization called the Environmental Working Group put together a list of produce that typically contains the highest amounts of pesticides. These foods should be purchased organically whenever possible and include apples, celery, cherries, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, nectarines, peaches, spinach, strawberries, sweet bell peppers, and tomatoes.
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  26. Think outside the box. Use a zucchini boat instead of a taco shell to avoid the inflammatory properties of tortillas and provide your body with anti-oxidants found in the vegetable. Cut the zucchini in half and hollow it out with a spoon before filling it with ground meat, lettuce, salsa, and your other favorite toppings!
  27. Rethink the way you prepare vegetables. Butter and salt may make your veggies taste delicious, but this is not always the best preparation method. Try adding olive oil and lemon pepper or fresh herbs to your vegetables to reduce sodium and add healthy fats to your meal.
  28. Use social media as a tool. Over the years, social media’s impact on our lives has grown. Why not use it to your advantage? Follow pages that support the anti-inflammatory lifestyle, share great recipes, post photos of your favorite dishes, and share your success with others.
  29. Choose your booze wisely. Unless you have celiac disease, most liquors are allowed under anti-inflammatory guidelines because the distillation process removes the majority of gluten from the product. Make sure your mixers are low-calorie and do not contain added sugars. Good options include unsweetened tea, 100% fruit juice, or club soda. If this isn’t enough variety for you, use SweetLeaf Stevia drops mixed with seltzer water. Available flavors include cola, lemon, chocolate, orange, and root beer. Check out our gluten-free guide to alcohol.
  30. But also, drink in moderation. Just because alcohol is allowed under anti-inflammatory guidelines does not mean that you should be drinking large amounts of it. Not only does alcohol contain calories, but it may lead to over-consumption of poor food choices.
  31. Join a class. It can be difficult to stay on track with an exercise program. Keep yourself excited to workout by joining a group fitness class such as kickboxing, water aerobics, Zumba, or yoga.
  32. Keep frozen meals on hand. It’s no secret that life often gets in the way of our good intentions. Don’t let your busy schedule keep you from a healthy lifestyle. Keep a few healthy meals in your freezer so that you can stick to your diet even on the craziest of days.
  33. Question yourself. there are many reasons that we go to grab a snack. Sometimes we are bored, stressed, or just have a desire to eat. Before you take a bite, ask yourself why you are eating. Are you hungry? Or is your snacking just impulsive? If you find that you’re not actually hungry, opt for a glass of water, iced tea, or seltzer water.
  34. Fruit is nature’s dessert. We often think of fruit as only a snack item. Don’t forget that flavors can be manipulated to make a delicious dessert. Try cutting up a peach, topping it with chopped almonds, and putting it in the oven until golden-brown. Or slice an apple, top with cinnamon, and microwave for 45-seconds. Find out how to turn frozen fruit into delicious “ice cream” here.
  35. Bring your lunch. OK, this may make you feel like you’re taking a trip back to high school, but studies have shown that people who eat their lunch out of the office eat more calories and fat than those who bring their lunch.
  36. Stay hydrated. Water is an important part of your diet! It helps regulate your body temperature, flush out toxins, lubricate joints, and is a component of blood. Drinking enough water will ensure these functions are working, and will even fill you up (which may prevent over-eating).
  37. Focus on what you CAN have. Turns out there are a lot of foods that cause inflammation, which makes an anti-inflammatory diet seem pretty restrictive. Instead of focusing on what you can’t have, focus on what you can have. Make a list of your favorite foods that are part of an anti-inflammatory diet and eat them frequently.
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  38. Make a list. Think about what your favorite anti-inflammatory dishes are. Got them? Write them down and put your list somewhere that can easily be found. Make these foods regularly! When you eat your favorite meals you feel satisfied, which can make you realize that this is not just a diet, but a lifestyle change.
  39. Go to the farmer’s market. There are many benefits of shopping at the farmer’s market including:
    1. You get to meet the people growing your food – some farmers will give discounts to loyal customers
    2. The prices are great
    3. You know your food is fresh
    4. It’s FUN
    5. You may end up eating food you never would have thought to buy before
  40. Buy a new cookbook. There’s a little bit of excitement that comes with getting something new, especially a cookbook. Try new recipes, get some insight from the author, and enjoy a delicious meal you’ve never had before. You can get our “30-Day Anti-Inflammatory Challenge” here.
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  41. Host a dinner party. Going out with friends can be difficult, especially when you are sitting with someone who is not as dedicated to their health as you. Instead of going out, have your friends come over for dinner. Make your favorite anti-inflammatory meal and dessert!
  42. Utilize marinades. Marinating your food can be a simple way to add great flavors to a dish. One idea? Marinate diced chicken in a mixture of dijon mustard, lemon juice, thyme, salt, and pepper. Put the chicken on skewers with vegetables and put them on the grill.
  43. Catch some zzz’s. Lack of sleep is associated with hunger and weight gain. When we don’t get enough sleep, our hunger hormones get off-balanced. The hormone that makes us feel hungry is increased by as much as 15%, while the hormone that makes us feel satisfied is decreased by 15%.
  44. Don’t make it difficult. You can do things the hard way or the easy way. You have enough going on in your life – your food should be one of the easy things. Don’t spend time counting your calories or grams of fat. Instead, focus on what foods you are consuming. Strive to eat a variety of colorful, nutritious food. Check out these tips on how to sneak more veggies into your diet.
  45. Don’t use food as a reward. You absolutely need to recognize your accomplishments in life – big and small. Just use rewards other than food. Using food as a reward may be a trigger for overeating or making poor choices. Try treating yourself to a movie, going on a trip, or visiting a park with a loved one instead.
  46. Know your s***. Ok, so you follow an anti-inflammatory diet. Great job! Do you know why you eliminated grains, soy, dairy, corn, beans, and refined sugar? If not, you have some research to do! To be successful, you need to know what these foods can do to you and why you shouldn’t go back to eating them.
  47. It’s ok to adjust the diet. The purpose of the anti-inflammatory diet is to decrease inflammation throughout your body. It actually does a phenomenal job of doing so. However, it isn’t an all or nothing approach. If you simply can’t live without peanut butter, cheese, or sweet n low, that’s ok. Incorporate small amounts of these foods, but stay true to the rest of the guidelines.
  48. Be realistic. Don’t set unreasonable expectations for yourself. Just like you won’t gain 5 pounds overnight, you won’t lose them either. Unfortunately, it’s going to take some time to see results. If you are expecting weight loss and don’t see it right away, don’t beat yourself up.
  49. Tomorrow is a new day. Slip-ups are inevitable. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Remember that just like one great meal won’t make you thin, one bad meal won’t make you fat. Remember to drink water to help your body flush out toxins and get back on track as soon as possible.
  50. Find accountability. There are many ways to be held accountable for following through on your lifestyle plans. You can keep a food journal, enroll a friend or family member to ask about your progress, or join an online support group. Whatever your method, make sure you are held accountable for following through with your plans.
  51. Don’t deprive yourself. One of the signs that your diet is going to be successful is that is can adapt to your life. If you are constantly feeling deprived of your favorite foods, the likelihood of being able to follow anti-inflammatory guidelines for life is very small. To be more successful, try the 80/20 rule or personalize the guidelines to fit your needs.
  52. Eat more! Yep, you can EAT MORE while being on a diet. The top 10 anti-inflammatory foods that you should eat the most include:
    1. Almonds
    2. Blueberries
    3. Broccoli
    4. Brussels sprouts
    5. Flaxseed
    6. Green tea
    7. Herbs and spices
    8. Mushrooms
    9. Onions
    10. Salmon

 

Do you have any other tricks that keep you on track? Put them in the comments below.

Best Paleo Breakfast Ideas for People on the Run

15 ways to betteryourself at work

The hardest part of being paleo is breakfast. Growing up, I constantly ate cereal and milk, toast, or yogurt for breakfast. Then I learned about paleo. I love eggs, but scrambled eggs and omelets don’t give much of a variety when it comes to my favorite meal of the day. Not to mention, most of the time I’m in my car on the way to the gym or work when I need to eat breakfast. I had to sit down and do some serious brainstorming about what I could eat in the AM when I am in a hurry. Here are my favorites:

 

Banana and almond butter “sandwich”

I thought of this tasty breakfast during my running days. Nothing keeps you full during a workout quite like the delicious combination of banana and nut butter. All you have to do is cut a banana in half lengthwise, put a little almond butter on each half, and stick it back together. (Note: the more nut butter on the banana, the messier this breakfast is.)

 

Egg muffins

Yep. I just said I was sick of omelets and scrambled eggs. But these egg muffins are easy to eat in the car and are a simple way to pack veggies into your day.

All you need to do is whisk 12 eggs, salt, pepper, and about 1-1/2 cups of chopped veggies of choice (I like spinach, jalapenos, tomatoes, and onion) in a bowl. If you like your veggies more tender, sauté them in a pan with olive oil for about 3 minutes before adding to the mixture. Spray a large muffin tin with non-stick spray or olive oil, and fill the tins until they are ¾ of the way full. Put them in an oven that has been pre-heated to 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until they are golden brown.

These can stay in your refrigerator for about a week. They are wonderful reheated in the microwave, but are also fine served cold if you are in a hurry!

 

Trail mix

This is the easiest breakfast ever! All you need to do is take a handful of almonds, a handful of cashews, half a handful of craisins, and half a handful of EnjoyLife brand chocolate chips and mix them together. You can put this together in the morning or the night before you want to eat it, or make a large batch at the beginning of the week. Feel free to change up the nuts and dried fruit to your favorites!

 

“Chicken salad”

Okay, this isn’t really a “breakfast” item… but anything you eat in the morning counts as breakfast, right? This chicken salad is quick and easy – all you need is leftover chicken, an avocado, and salsa!

Take a leftover chicken breast (or bake/grill/sauté one if you’re feeling ambitious) and shred it with a fork. Mix it into a mashed avocado and stir in some salsa for flavor.

Voila! You’ve made yourself breakfast in less than 5 minutes. When I’m in a hurry I like to put the combination into Tupperware or the avocado skins so I can eat it with a plastic spoon in the car

 

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Feed Your Vitality Muffins

I always like to keep a few Feed Your Vitality muffins in my freezer. Not only are they delicious, but they defrost in the microwave in less than a minute. The variety of flavors are delicious and they are packed with 10-14 grams of protein, keeping me full all the way until lunch time (a difficult feat).

 

I also always keep Larabars and beef/turkey jerky on hand for when I’m in a hurry to get somewhere and barely have time to brush my teeth, much less make breakfast.

 

Do you have any breakfast items that you turn to when you’re in a hurry?

Why you need to buy a Dessert Bullet

how the dessert bullet changed my life

by: Ali Brown, RD, LD

 

It is no surprise that I’m obsessed with food. After all, I get paid to think and talk about different foods all day. And while yes, I am always looking for ways to increase my fruit and veggie intake – I like to splurge. And not that I’d turn down pizza or a piece of cake, but I particularly enjoy ice cream. As you know, ice cream doesn’t have a place in an anti-inflammatory diet (so annoying).

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One day I was at my local Target and stumbled upon something that caught my eye. This magical “Dessert Bullet” claims that it can make a healthy dessert in 10 seconds. The box stated that I could put a piece of frozen fruit into this machine, and it would produce ice cream. Huh.

It sounded too good to be true (a sign of a bad product), but for whatever reason, I chose to push aside my skepticism and buy the machine and a bag of frozen fruit.

The Dessert Bullet comes with a cookbook and one of the recipes is for a simple vanilla “ice cream”. Get this: you put 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract and a banana in the shoot up top…… and that’s it. The marvelous product that is spit from  machine was yellow, had a texture similar to ice cream, and made my heart happy. I can finally eat ice cream!!! Or is it fruit?? Or ice cream? It doesn’t matter – it’s delicious and cold and melts on my tongue so I’ll take it.

Do you have to use a banana? Absolutely not. If your combination of fruit includes a banana, the end product has a great ice cream like texture. However, using a mixture that excludes bananas is just as delicious – with a texture similar to sorbet. There are endless possibilities for making delicious treats between using a variety of fruits and other add-ins.

At Feed Your Vitality, we like to play with our SweetLeaf Stevia flavors. Using these, you can make hundreds of flavor! Take a banana, strawberry, and chocolate Stevia and you have a delicious concoction. A banana and root beer create a root beer float. I’m not exaggerating when I say that any sweet, cold treat you can imagine can be made with this machine. And have I mentioned that it’s all FRUIT? Just checking.

 

Last night I was deciding if I wanted to go to the local ice cream shop and fill my stomach with regrets. It was then that I remembered that I had a bag of mixed fruit in my freezer. Heck yeah! I added some strawberries, pineapple, mango, and peaches to the shoot, pushed it down the tube, and watched a delicious treat come out. I saved myself the shame, bloating, calories, and fat that come with ice cream and in return consumed nothing but 2 servings of fruit. I know – so cool.

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My advice to you – make your life better and get on Amazon or go to the store and get yourself a Dessert Bullet. It will be the best decision of the week.

Gluten free guide to alcohol

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by: Ali Brown, RD, LD

 

I like to think of the staff at Feed Your Vitality like a small family. And when someone in your family has a problem, we all band together for a solution. Our problem? We like to enjoy the occasional cocktail (or two… or three), but FYV founder, Ashley Nanney, does not eat gluten. Unfortunately, most types of beer and some spirits are out of the question for her because they are made from ingredients that contain gluten. We simply couldn’t let that stop us, so we did some research and began a hunt for the best gluten free beer and cocktails we could find. We learned a lot of great information that make company parties much more fun! See the results below.

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Spirits
. Most liquor goes through a distillation process that dilutes any gluten that was originally in the product to amounts so small that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers it safe for those with celiac disease! Unfortunately, some people with celiac disease may still experience a reaction when drinking vodka, whiskey or scotch. Luckily for us, Ashley is not a part of those unlucky few. There are also some liquors that do not originate from wheat, and therefore are safe. These include tequila, rum and potato vodka.

Wine. Wine is made from grapes (duh), which are gluten free. Thankfully, wine is safe for all involved. Red wine even has antioxidant properties, which can protect against inflammation (bonus!).

Beer. Heineken is a brand of beer that is available at most bars. Unfortunately, not everyone is the biggest fan of Heineken. For those who prefer a more “classic” beer taste, we have a brand called Omission. They have breweries in Oregon and New Hampshire, but distribute throughout the United States. Omission brews an IPA, Pale Ale and Lager that are all free of gluten.

“Omission beers are brewed just like other great craft beers, with malted barley, hops, water, and yeast. Once the beers are ready for the fermentation tanks, we add a brewing enzyme called Brewers Clarex™ which breaks apart and detoxifies the gluten protein chains. The beers are then packaged in a closed environment to eliminate any cross contamination risk.”

 

As always, if you have celiac disease check the food label to make sure that there is no gluten in any of the alcoholic beverages and/or mixers you choose to drink. And of course, remember to drink responsibly!

 

Apple Cider Vinegar, Not Just for Salad Dressing!

Apple Cider Vinegar

32593650_sAngelique Hicks wrote this latest blog  for Feed Your Vitality!

Apple cider vinegar is one of the most amazing liquids I have ever worked with.  Besides making delicious dressings for salads or marinades, this condiment can be used for so much more.  You can cook with it, clean with it, use it as a fruit and vegetable wash, and even kill weeds with this miraculous ingredient.  These are just a few benefits of apple cider vinegar.  I recently had a personal experience with it.  My son had a stubborn wart and I had tried everything to remove it!  Compound W, painful freezing that cost hundreds of dollars and lots of tears.  I was so desperate that I even tried a substance from Canada derived from a beetle that blisters your skin to remove it.  NOTHING WORKED!  After much hesitation, I decided to try apple cider vinegar.  In less than a week it was completely gone!  It was easy, inexpensive, highly effective, and pain and tear free!

After this experience I started trying this vinegar for everything!   It cleared up my rosacea,  removed my son’s dandruff, and even helped dissolve my neighbors gall stones.  Choosing the right vinegar is important.  I use Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar.  It is fermented and contains the “mother” in it.  Mother is a cobweb-like amino acid-based substance found in unprocessed, unfiltered vinegar, this indicates your vinegar is of the best quality. Most manufacturers pasteurize and filter their vinegar to prevent the mother from forming, but the “murky” kind is best, especially if you’re planning to consume it.  For more information on the numerous benefits of apple cider vinegar, go check out Apple Cider Vinegar Uses and give one of the many uses a try!  You might just be shocked at the result!

By Angelique Hicks, IIN Holistic Health Coach

Angelique 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.

All Wrapped Up…with Lettuce

All Wrapped Up - With Lettuce

27076940_sHere is another surprising fact that I discovered while working at Feed Your Vitality. I don’t have to have bread to enjoy a sandwich. In my previous life, the bread was non-negotiable; it wasn’t a sandwich without bread. Period, end of story. Lettuce sounded like a very sorry substitute.   The first time I tried a wrap in heavy duty crispy lettuce I felt almost guilty that afterwards I hadn’t missed my beloved bread. Now I am almost obsessed with how good everything tastes wrapped in lettuce – Burritos! Tacos! Spring rolls! And of course, sandwiches!

So now, while I am more than happy to eat lettuce wraps that other people make, I wasn’t exactly sure how to go about creating them myself. Here are a few tips I learned from the experts here at Feed Your Vitality.

  • The key to the lettuce wrap is, obviously, the lettuce – and there are quite a few differences of opinion about the “best” type to use.
  • Generally, you want a large leaf that can hold a lot of ingredients.  It should be pliable so it is easy to wrap.
  • Most commonly used are iceberg, romaine, napa cabbage, Boston or Bibb
  • Cut off the end and separate each “leaf”
  • Wash well, making sure to remove any grit, and pat dry with paper towels
  • Fillings can be warm and spicy, cold and refreshing, or basically anything that you would include in a sandwich, burrito, taco, etc.  If the filling is juicy, you may want to drain it well so there isn’t a lot of dripping from the wrap.  This also goes for any additional condiments, dressings or dips you consider adding.
  • When filling, try to keep the ingredients about an inch from the edges of the lettuce. Some people prefer to mix all the ingredients first; some prefer to layer them.
  • Fold the lettuce sides into the center, and roll – it is very similar to putting together a burrito!

All in all, lettuce wraps can be very versatile and used as appetizers or main dishes. You can have a build your own wrap station, or you can prepare them yourself. Depending on the fillings they can be Mexican, Asian or just a simple sandwich.

And that’s a wrap!

10 Anti-Inflammatory Road Trip Treats!

Ten Anti-InflammatoryRoad Trip Treats

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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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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!
  5. 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!
  6. 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…
  7. 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.
  8. 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!
  9. 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.
  10. 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 it comes to Cauliflower, I was a late bloomer…

CAULIFLOWER

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 blog

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!

Magnesium in the Body

Did you know that more than 300 chemical reactions in the body rely on the mineral magnesium, yet the average American only get about three quarters of the recommended 400 milligrams a day?  It is not overly surprising that the “standard American diet,” with a heavy reliance on packaged and refined foods, results in deficiency. What is surprising, however, is that even people with a comparatively healthy diet can be at risk of magnesium deficiency due to  improper meal planning, overcooked vegetables, or the wrong calcium to magnesium ratio. Dark leafy greens, legumes, nuts, and seeds are the best foods to ensure the body is getting enough magnesium.

What is the role of Magnesium in the body?   

Maintains Nervous System Balance

All of our cells contain receptor cites that allow messages to be transported through the body. Some of the most studied receptors are the receptors found in brain cells. The NMDA receptor in the brain is the cite where recreational drugs and anesthetics seem to affect brain function. Research has shown that when magnesium levels are too low, the NMDA receptors are affected, and there is an increased risk of depression. Magnesium aids in calming the nervous system which is helpful not only for depression, but also sleep disorders, pre-menstral syndrome, irritability, and emotional disturbances.

Relaxes Muscles

Calcium contracts the muscles and magnesium relaxes them. Calcium blocking drugs are often given to stop heart disorders and headaches, but magnesium has been used to create the same effect.  Some women get bad menstrual cramps and headaches associated with hormone changes prior to their monthly cycle. About a week or two before my period I always take a calcium, magnesium, and zinc supplement. I notice my body also craves lots of magnesium rich foods. I think this is why so many women crave chocolate! I never get cramps or headaches, ever. Maybe I am just blessed with good genes.

Maintains Bone Health

About 50-60 percent of Magnesium is stored inside the bone. Research has found that even a mild ongoing magnesium deficiency can lead to bone loss. When magnesium levels get low inside the body, levels of the parathyroid hormone go down. This leads to a decrease in calcium absorption, and a loss of both calcium and magnesium in the urine. The relationship with calcium and magnesium is one of the most actively studied, yet frequently misunderstood mineral interactions. Magnesium is necessary for calcium absorption, however, both calcium and magnesium compete with each other. I worked at a health food store many years ago and the science of that time stated that magnesium and calcium ratios had to be 2:1 in order to be properly absorbed. Now research is dictating a 1:1 ratio and clinical trials show that supplements with the incorrect ratio may cause the mineral with the higher level to completely block out the absorption of the other. The best remedy for this is to get minerals through whole foods rather than supplements if possible.

Facilitates Energy Production

One of the functions of our cells is energy production. This requires a complicated task involving a long chain of chemical reactions. Many of these reactions cannot take place unless magnesium is present. Low magnesium levels can be a contributing factor in causing fatigue.

Decreases Inflammation 

While some inflammation in the body is useful for tissue repair and injury, chronic inflammation has been frequently linked to a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, and dementia. Research has shown that restoring magnesium to recommended intakes has reduced inflammation in clinical trials.

Maintaining Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

Magnesium is involved in the control of blood sugar and glucose metabolism. Research has shown that people with low levels of magnesium have poor blood sugar levels and improvements were found when magnesium levels normalized.

Best Magnesium Rich Foodsspinach

  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Halibit
  • Collard Greens
  • Turnip Greens
  • Mustard Greens
  • Green Beans
  • Sea Vegetables
  • Black Strap Molasses
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Black Beans
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Cashews
  • Almonds

For a full list of all magnesium rich foods visit Worlds Healthiest Foods.

How to Prepare Vegetables to Maximize Magnesium Content

Magnesium is a mineral and unlike vitamins, nothing can be created or destroyed in the process of cooking. That being said, magnesium can be lost in the cooking water during boiling and steaming, especially the longer the process takes place. A study was conducted on spinach and kale and found that after boiling for 3-5 minutes 20 to 30 percent of the magnesium was lost into the water. One effective way to save the lost minerals is to re-purpose the water for a sauce or soup. Leafy greens are delicate and really do not need much more than a one to two minute quick steam or sauté.

Can I Be Eating Too Much Magnesium?

Too much Magnesium can occur from supplementation, but not usually from food alone. The National Academy of Sciences  and the Institute of Medicine have not established any upper limit on magnesium. A level of 350 milligrams, from supplementation alone, has been known to cause loose stools. Those with renal failure need to follow special guidelines on magnesium as the kidneys are the primary regulator of blood magnesium levels.

I have a pretty healthy diet rich in a variety of whole foods. I like to buy whatever seasonal produce that looks appealing. I often run out of a particular fruit or veg but have a whole crisper full of beets (Thanks Ashley!) So I can’t justify buying more until I use up what I have. What this means is that I may go for a while without spinach, kale, or dark leafy greens. I probably get most of the magnesium through almonds and almond milk, but after a while without the greens, I will crave them and feel the difference after I eat them. For me, magnesium is the best mineral for when I am feeling easily irritated, stressed out, muscle soreness, or having trouble sleeping. My favorite magnesium supplement, for when I am not eating what I should is Natural Calm by Natural Vitality. I like this one because it is loose powder and I can control how much I want to take. A serving gives 80 percent of the daily amount (325 milligrams), which is more than most people need.

This post was inspired by a woman wanting to know more about magnesium and by our newest team member and baker, Krystal. Customer requests help me direct my creativity and are always welcome and appreciated.

Sarah with Feed Your Vitality

References:

Byrd-Bredbenner, Moe, Beshgetoor, Berning. Wardlaw’s Perspective’s in Nutrition. Ninth Edition. Mcgraw Hill. 2012.

Pitchford, Paul. Healing with Whole Foods. Third Edition. North Atlantic Books.,Berkley, California. 2002.

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=75 Accessed 8/25/2013