Month: July 2015

Sweet Tooth Truths Part 2: The Secret to Cutting Sugar Cravings…Naturally!

In the first post in this series all about sugar, I shared what we’ve learned about how much sugar we’re eating, how it’s hidden in many of our favorite “healthy” foods, and why so many of us are addicted to it. If you missed it, check it out here!

If our drive to eat these foods is so strong, how do we overcome it?

How do we set ourselves up to reduce sugar cravings? 

It’s important to know that the more sugar we eat, the more sugar we crave.

The good news is that our taste buds are highly adaptable. They can change over time.

If we give our body a break from artificial sweeteners and refined sugar and eat naturally sweet foods (like berries!), then when we do eat a sweetened food, it may taste too sweet to us!

Aside from eating less sugar, one of the keys to cutting sugar cravings is to eat satiating meals and snacks that stabilize our blood sugar. To do this, we’ll want to include a combination of protein, fiber and fat.

PFF

The most satiating macronutrient we can eat is PROTEIN.

Protein isn’t just for building muscles either.

The building blocks of protein (amino acids) are at the foundation of everything from tissues like muscles to neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, hormones, and enzymes.

It keeps us full and is key to controlling our energy and weight. Check out this article all about protein and why we need it.

Here are a few of my favorite sources of protein (seeds, nuts, lentils, peas, beans, wild caught fish, grass-fed beef, pasture-raised and cage-free eggs and poultry).

protein

You can find sustainably raised animals products near where you live by searching the website LocalHarvest.org.

For me, one of the most filling sources of protein is lentils. They’re packed with protein AND fiber, so they really fill me up for a long time. One of my favorite lentil dishes to make when the weather cools down is this Crock Pot Lentil Chili.

Another blood sugar-stabilizer is FIBER.

Fiber is only found in plants and helps our blood sugar release more slowly over time, so it keeps us feeling full and helps us get off of the blood sugar roller coaster. By doing that, we will feel better and have more sustained energy.

Not only that, but fiber-filled foods are nutrient-rich foods (packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals) that nourish and satisfy our bodies at a biochemical level. That way, instead of being overfed and undernourished, we’re giving our body all of the goodness it needs to feel awesomely energized.

Some of my favorite sources of fiber include the foods below (leafy green vegetables, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, root vegetables like sweet potatoes, squashes, berries, stone fruits like cherries and peaches, lentils, peas, and beans)

Fiber

As you start eating more fiber, do so slowly and increase your water intake at the same time to support your body in getting rid of waste.

That way, you can feel your best and reduce some of the common side effects of adding in more fiber (such as gas and bloating) to an otherwise low-fiber diet.

Last but not least, we can recover from the advice given to us by the dietary guidelines and stop fearing FAT.

Remember this chart from the first post in this series?

low-fat-guidelines

We need dietary fat for a number of reasons.

For starters, 60% of our brain is made up of fat, so healthy fats like the ones below are essential for brain health and functioning and also play a key role in satiety.

I like to think of fat as a condiment, with most of my meals consisting of fiber and protein. It’s especially important to eat fats when we eat plants containing vitamins that need fat to be absorbed (like the vitamin K in kale). I focus on eating whole food sources of fats as much as possible.

Here are just a few of my favorite fats (avocados, flax seeds, hemp seeds, nuts and seeds, pasture-raised cage-free eggs, grass-fed ghee – clarified butter – or organic grass-fed butter if you can handle some dairy), coconut, and wild caught salmon).

fats

When we include Protein, Fiber and Fat in our meals (PFF for short), we give our body a better chance of controlling our blood sugar, stabilizing our energy and weight AND cutting cravings!

Eating this way has significantly impacted my energy level and has helped me cut cravings, too.

Give it a try for yourself, and see what happens! 🙂

In the third post in this series, we’ll take a look at the concerns about artificial sweeteners. We’ll wrap up with a bonus 4th post about the BEST natural sweeteners to use and why!

Sweet Tooth Truths Part 1: Why We Can’t Get Enough of Sugar

This is the first part of a 4-part series recapping the recent Sweet Confessions event I was part of at the Institute for Integrative Health in Baltimore! Part 2 will take us through how to cut cravings and eat for energy, and in Part 3 we’ll cover which sweeteners to avoid or minimize and which ones are the best choices.

———————————————————————————————

Earlier this year, I wrote in my journal that one of my goals this year was: To speak at the Institute for Integrative Health.

This past Thursday, I had the honor and privilege to do just that!

The night started with a Healthy Happy Hour and was supported by some of my favorite food vendors, including Zia’s Cafe/Plantbar, Jinji ChocolatesMamma Chia, and KIND, as well as other local advocates of wholesome food and health education, such as Real Food Farm and Mission Thrive.

Tiih picstiih eventTIIH

I had my own Rachel’s Nourishing Kitchen table and was giving out samples of my homemade Snickerdoodle Cookie Dough Bites, which were a HUGE hit!

A little 3-year-old girl came back for thirds 🙂

They’re made without refined sugar and use natural sweeteners, including Medjool dates and raw coconut palm sugar.

They also contain blood-sugar stabilizing cinnamon and satiating sources of protein and healthy fats. We’ll talk more about why that’s important in the second post in this series!

me table tiihdonutholes tiihSnickerdoodle Bites

You could feel the energy in the room as everyone mingled and sampled the delicious eats.

We made our way into the main room for the Sweet Confessions presentation with Dr. D’Adamo. I was excited to see friends, clients, and peers there!

I started off talking about how I’ve always had a sweet tooth and grew up loving Sour Patch Kids, Swedish Fish, Fruit by the Foot, Gushers, Mike & Ikes, and everything in between.

I had fruit snacks in my lunch box, Little Debbie treats as part of an after-school snack, and loads of candy for every holiday.

We watched a funny clip from the Jimmy Kimmel show that shows just how strong our emotional connection to sweets is.

Check it out for a laugh 🙂

We love sweets because they taste good and make us feel good. But most of us don’t realize how biologically wired that preference is!

Our taste system has an important job – to decide whether to accept a food; it serves as the gatekeeper. Michael Moss writes about this in his book Salt Sugar Fat (a highly recommended read!).

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors had very little access to sweet foods, but “sweet” meant that a food was safe to eat and would provide energy, something that was unpredictable and hard to come by at that time.

The sweetest thing they likely had access to were berries – a far cry from the Sour Patch Kids and fruit snacks I loved so much as a kid. In our talk, our goal wasn’t to vilify sugar. We simply wanted to raise awareness around how much most of us are eating and to consider how it might be impacting our health and how we feel. Rather than “telling” everyone to avoid sugar entirely, we talked about how to make the best choices when it comes to sweeteners, so we can still enjoy them.

So, how much sugar are we eating? Let’s take a look.

In 1822, we consumed an average of 45 grams of soda every 5 days – that’s about the amount of sugar in one 12-ounce can of Coke.

coke

Fast forward to 2010, and the average American is eating 765 grams of sugar every 5 days – the amount of sugar in 17 cans of Coke! That’s about 22 teaspoons a day or 130 pounds of sugar per yeara person worth of sugar.

Our bodies haven’t adapted to how much sugar we’re pouring in on a daily basis. And it’s not just in the form of sugary candy. Sugar is hiding in foods we may not even suspect.

One of the most helpful tips I’ve learned about how to spot sugar in food is to memorize this simple stat:

day-6-tsp-to-grams

Once I started paying attention to that, it totally changed how I shopped for any packaged foods.

I was shocked to find out how much sugar was in seemingly “healthy” foods like yogurt, granola bars, and even smoothies.

Take a look at one of the comparisons below and find many more on the Sugar Stacks website.

FedUp-Fact7

WHOA!

Yogurt and a pack of Gushers fruit snacks have the same amount of sugar?

What’s going on?

How did we get here?

A lot of our current eating habits can be traced back to the introduction of the first dietary guidelines in the U.S. in the late 1970s.

The initial recommendations that were set to be released were to significantly reduce sugar intake along with consumption of red meat and dairy products. The sugar, meat, and dairy industries were infuriated by these recommendations and lobbied to have them softened, which is exactly what happened.

So, instead of cutting back on sugar, the release of the McGovern report villainized saturated (and ultimately ALL) fat.

The result was that our intake of refined, enriched and processed carbohydrates skyrocketed beyond anything we’d ever seen with the introduction of low-fat, no fat, fat-free, and lite products.

We stopped eating fat, starting eating refined flour and sugar, and we started gaining weight.

low-fat-guidelines

It’s not just that we’re now suddenly weak and don’t have the willpower to resist sweet temptations that seem to surround us at all times. It’s that we’re trying to resist a biochemical drive on a daily basis, especially when it comes to foods like sugar.

One study done in rats was designed to test their preference for sugar-sweetened water compared to intravenous cocaine. 94% of the rats preferred the sugar-water, suggesting that rats can become sugar dependent under certain circumstances, which may translate to human conditions.

Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist and founder of the Institute for Responsible Nutrition, explains how this process of dopamine release happens in the human brain.

When we eat sugary foods, the brain gets flooded with the pleasure chemical – dopamine – and starts reducing its number of dopamine receptors in order to keep things balanced. This is called downregulation. In other words, we need MORE to get the same effect or “high.” This is known as tolerance.

When drug addicts become tolerant to the effects of a drug, they start increasing the dosage to get the same effect. Lustig suggests we’re doing the same thing with food in this video.

Many of us experience sugar highs and lows throughout the day that affect everything from our energy levels to mood and even weight.

So, if this drive to eat these foods is so strong, how do we address it in a way that doesn’t center around deprivation and dieting?

In the next post, we’ll take a look at the secret to cutting cravings and controlling blood sugar instead of letting it control us!

Anti-Inflammatory Berry Blast GBOMBS Smoothie {Paleo, Vegan}

I’ve been preparing for a client presentation today all about one of my favorite topics in nutrition – GBOMBS.

I’ve written about them before, but I love the acronym because it’s an easy way to remember some of the most nutrient-packed, disease-fighting, health-boosting foods on the planet, according to Dr. Joel Fuhrman:

  • Greens
  • Beans
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Berries
  • Seeds (+ Nuts)

One of the easiest ways to pack in a bunch of GBOMBS at once is in a smoothie 🙂

Smoothies are also an easy way to “upgrade” our diet, adding in lots of nutrients that keep our body clean, energized, and feeling awesome.

My husband, Bill, and I have them for breakfast almost every morning. We change them up, so we are getting a variety of nutrients from different fruits, vegetables and super foods.

Today’s smoothie has a lot going for it, including being anti-inflammatory and detoxifying.

According to Dr. Mark Hyman and other functional medicine doctors and nutritionists, inflammation and toxicity are the two reasons most of us are sick and holding on to extra weight, so we want to load up on foods that help us reduce them, and this smoothie does the trick!

Check out the amazing health benefits of three of the key ingredients in this smoothie:

Supercharged berries

GBOMBS berries

Berries

Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries.

No matter which berries you pick, they are one of the best foods you can eat because they’re low in sugar, and their high antioxidant power helps protect our heart and contains potent anti-cancer compounds.

For these reasons and more (they taste amazing!), berries are considered one of Dr. Fuhrman’s GBOMBS foods.

A curly bunch of kale!

A curly bunch of kale!

Greens {Kale}

This superstar veggie is another GBOMBS food, so it’s also loaded with anti-cancer and anti-fat storage benefits.

Leafy green veggies are the most nutrient-rich foods we can eat. That’s our goal – to get the most nutrients we can in every calorie we eat or drink. It’s one of the secrets to optimal health.

Read more about kale’s amazing health benefits here.

flax

Flaxseed

Yet another GBOMBS food, flaxseed is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and keeps our brain and arteries healthy due to its Omega-3 fatty acid content.

Flaxseed is also loaded with fiber, which helps regulate blood sugar (a key to staying energized!), keep us feeling full, and promote healthy digestion (keep things moving).

Make sure you grind the seeds before eating them, as it is tough for your teeth to break down the whole seeds and release all of their health benefits. My blender does a good job of this, but a coffee grinder will work, too. 

Click here for more ideas to add flaxseed into your daily diet!

smoothiepic

Ingredients (ideally organic)

  • 1.5 cups unsweetened (or homemade) almond milk
  • 2 cups greens, loosely packed (baby kale, kale (remove stem), spinach, etc.)
  • 1 cup frozen berries (I used black raspberries in mine but any will do)
  • 1/2 frozen banana (peel it first)
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed / ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Optional to make it more filling: scoop of your favorite protein powder (I want to try this one and have been pretty happy with this one)

Directions

Put all ingredients in a blender in the order listed above for about 60 seconds, until you reach a smooth consistency. If you don’t have a high-powered blender, blend the greens and liquid FIRST and then add the rest of the ingredients.

*As your taste buds adjust to like naturally sweet foods, you may find that adding a pitted Medjool date or a teaspoon of honey sweetens up this recipe a bit, but the berries, banana, and cinnamon are enough for me!

Stretch Your Fresh Food Dollars: How to Properly Store Fruits & Veggies

I’ve been pretty busy lately spending most Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays at client sites doing nutrition workshops and cooking demos.

I LOVE having the opportunity to interact with so many people, hear their stories, and spread the message about eating real, whole food in a way that is refreshing, energizing, inspiring and FUN from Dover, Delaware to Washington, DC.

Earlier this week, I was teaching a cooking class for a client, and one of the attendees asked about proper food storage tips.

It’s something that most of us don’t know much about, so I thought I’d use this post to clear up the confusion, especially since so many fruits and veggies are in season, and we want to make the most of them!

For starters, I found this brief recommendation about cooked food storage and this post about dry pantry goods storage on one of my favorite websites – The Kitchn. I also wanted to share the info below about how to properly store fruits and veggies, since many of us are unclear about where to put them once we bring them home.

What goes in the fridge?

What can be left out on the counter?

What should you store in your pantry?

If you want to get the most out of your produce budget, make sure you store fruits and vegetables properly. Use this handy infographic to learn how!

fruit veggies - how to store

For more tips about how to stretch your fresh food dollars, check out this post for 5 additional tips!

Looking to eat healthy without going broke? Check out this post!

31 Inspirations @ 31

Yesterday, I was blessed to celebrate yet another year on this earth, and what a year it’s been!!

So many incredible things have happened in my life that I would have never imagined a year ago.

I set an intention at the beginning of the year to feel these Radiant, Clarity, Flowing, Connected, and Worthy and I’ve been feeling all of them in BIG ways!

From the WELCOA award and San Diego trip to the birth of our niece and countless opportunities to speak to, present and teach at the local, regional and national level, I’ve felt radiant and have been “in the zone,” doing what I love.

I’ve met several inspiring and passionate people who are making a big difference in the field of health and well-being, including Dan Buettner, Dr. David Katz, Tom Rath and the Food Babe. Connecting to these people and others, like my CNE community, has been so energizing.

Everything that has happened this year has brought me closer to realizing that I’m “enough” or “worth it,” feelings I’ve struggled with my whole life.

I was reminded of this the night before my birthday when Bill surprised me with a garden in our backyard (and a cute little RNK Rachel’s Nourishing Kitchen sign!).

As someone who is known for killing plants and not being able to keep anything alive, I’m hopeful that having an actual garden will turn things around!

Inspired by my friend, Jessica, I now take off on my birthday and do exactly what I want to do, spending the day at my favorite place – Belvedere Square.

I worked out at the gym in the morning (awesome, high energy class with Angel!) and then grabbed a juice at Plantbar.

I ran into my friend Celeste and made a new friend, Monyka, who is another woman driven to do big, meaningful things in Baltimore.

I had lunch with Lola, who I’ve known for almost a decade but whose Nia classes I just started taking a few months ago. I LOVE Nia! The best way I can describe it is judgment-free joyful movement 🙂

She was kind enough to treat me to a yummy lunch and give me this flower as a gift!

In it was a note and one of her signature phrases:

“Do it with passion, or don’t do it at all!” 

Yes!

After lunch, I went to my favorite chocolate place – Pure Chocolate by Jinji – and got a little goodie bag of chocolate treats, including one of these black raspberry lemon thyme chocolates.

IMG_9790 IMG_9792

One thing I noticed is that raspberries were everywhere.

They’ve always been my favorite fruit, so I felt particularly special to have them in everything from my salad to my tea to my chocolate 🙂

It’s so neat when fun things like that happen, isn’t it?

My sister-in-law, Layne, brought her two cutie pie kiddos to visit me a little while later (adorable!). We wandered around the market, a mesmerizing place to explore for a 2-year-old!

I spent the rest of the afternoon writing this post before Bill took me out to dinner at Great Sage.

IMG_9797 IMG_9810

I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

I was energized and inspired by all of the people I physically spent time with and all of the texts, phone calls, emails and Facebook messages people took the time to send.

I felt so abundantly loved!

Last year, as I reflected on turning 30, I wrote this blog post about my 30 Truths at 30.

Since then, I’ve learned even more from all of the amazing teachers and experiences in my life and the books I’ve read.

IMG_9816

So, another year later, after taking time reflect about what inspired me most over the past year, here are my 31 Inspirations at 31 that have shaped my thinking and influenced my “doing.”

I hope they speak to you, too 🙂

IMG_9818

IMG_9850

IMG_9212

IMG_8953

IMG_7325

IMG_3081

IMG_7636

IMG_7778

IMG_4203

IMG_2745IMG_9837-0

IMG_3661

IMG_7769

Gratitude

IMG_9408

IMG_7623

recite-m7092f

IMG_9814

IMG_9479

IMG_9631

recite-17sm3f7

IMG_9344

IMG_9312

IMG_8381

IMG_7386

IMG_7524

IMG_7616

IMG_7201

IMG_6760
IMG_9842
IMG_8874

Mint Chocolate Chip Bliss Balls {Paleo, Vegan}

Whenever I think of my birthday, I remember the mint chocolate chip ice cream cake I had EVERY YEAR growing up. I looked forward to it as much as the presents.

From the creamy, minty ice cream that instantly coated and cooled my tongue to the chocolate crunchies layer in the middle of the ice cream bliss, that cake was the BEST.

Since removing dairy from my diet a few years ago once I learned how it was triggering health issues, I’ve had to find other ways to recreate a similar experience.

Hence these little mint chocolatey bliss balls 🙂

Mint Chocolate Chip Bliss BallsMint Choco Balls Aerial

They’re a serious upgrade to my Carvel cake and are full of superfoods like raw cacao powder, cacao nibs and hemp seeds. Check out just a few of the awesome benefits of these foods:

Raw Cacao Powder & Nibs: This is chocolate at its best…raw. When we hear people talk about chocolate being good for us, THIS is the stuff they’re talking about. In its raw form (cacao), chocolate is packed with anti-aging and disease-fighting antioxidants along with mood-boosting and anti-inflammatory compounds. It’s a food we can enjoy every day. Lots of my sweet treat recipes are made with raw cacao, so check them out!

Hemp Seeds: Don’t worry – in case it’s crossing your mind – these hemp seeds won’t give you the “high” you’re thinking of, but they DO have lots of other benefits. They’re a great source of plant-based protein, high in healthy fats that naturally balance hormones and promote heart health, and rich in soluble and insoluble fiber to keep us feeling full and satisfied. For more benefits of hemp seeds, click here.

So, not only are these ingredients really good for us, but these bliss balls taste aaaamazing!

You should have seen my husband Bill’s face the first time he bit into one of these. He was in heaven! 🙂

Mint Choco Chip Bday Balls

Yields: 16-18 balls

Ingredients

  • 2 cups raw walnuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/2 cup hemp seeds, divided
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1 1/2 cups Medjool dates, pitted (about 15 dates)
  • 5 drops therapeutic grade peppermint essential oil (a little goes a long way!…or 1/2 tsp peppermint extract)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla powder
  • 2 tablespoons raw cacao nibs

Directions

  1. Combine walnuts, 1/4 cup hemp seeds, cacao powder and sea salt in a food processor and process until finely ground, about 15-20 seconds.
  2. Add dates, peppermint oil and vanilla and process until combined.
  3. Add raw cacao nibs and pulse a few more times until everything is incorporated. Then, remove dough from the food processor and roll it into one big dough ball.
  4. Pinch off one chunk at a time to make 1-inch fudge balls. Roll balls in hemp seeds and store in the fridge, so they can firm up. After that, you can leave them in the fridge or freezer.

Enjoy 🙂

mint balls

Cherry Dark Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Cookies {Gluten-Free, Paleo}

You’re in for a real treat today.

My husband, Bill, works at a summer sports camp for middle schoolers, and he brought some of these cookies to share with his co-counselors. One of them said,

“I don’t even really like cookies, but these are good!”

I’m not so sure about people who “don’t like cookies,” but I’ll take the compliment!

I’ve always loved cookies, and my first memories are of my mom’s chocolate chip cookies brought to you by none other than Nestle Tollhouse. I could do some damage on that bowl of batter…and I swear the raw eggs never made me sick 🙂

There aren’t many things more awesome than licking a bowl of cookie dough batter when you’re a kid, right?

Today’s cookies aren’t quite the same, and I didn’t eat the batter, BUT they really hit the spot when I’m looking for an upgraded sweet treat.

IMG_9705

They’re soft, slightly tart and chewy from the dried cherries, a little crunchy from the toasted almonds and (of course!) chocolatey.

The base?

Almond butter. 

No refined flour or sugar here! But that doesn’t mean they don’t taste amazing.

Since they’re not make with any flour, they’re a bit sticky, so you’ll notice they stick together a bit if you stack them…but that’s all the more reason to grab two instead of one 😉

cherry choco chip cookies

Cherry Dark Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Cookies ~ Rachel's Nourishing Kitchen

Almond Butter Cherry Chocolate Chip Bite

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup slivered almond, toasted and chopped
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup 100% pure Grade B maple syrup
  • 1 egg (free-range, cage-free preferred)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Enjoy Life dark chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats.
  2. Lightly toast slivered almonds in the toaster oven or on a small skillet until golden and crunchy; then, coarsely chop and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, stir together almond butter, maple syrup, egg, vanilla, salt, baking soda and baking powder until evenly combined.
  4. Stir in coconut, dried cherries, chocolate chips and slivered almonds.
  5. Scoop with a cookie scoop onto cookie sheets. Bake 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack…or eat immediately!

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

%d bloggers like this: