So often we prepare particular foods simply because it's a habit or we feel as though we would be missing something if they weren't on our plate (think starchy carbohydrates: pasta, rice, bread, potatoes, etc.) They can be filler foods that aren't overly nutrient dense but we eat them regularly anyway because they are easy to prepare and require minimal thought. What if I told you that you could swap out rice occasionally in place of cauliflower and you may not even notice?
Cauliflower is a great source of vitamin C (yes, the vitamin that oranges are famous for), vitamin K, folate and fibre (just to name a few). As an added bonus, cauliflower is lower in calories per serving than rice, meaning we get a larger portion (and let's be real - larger portions are always better).
Feel free to spice up your cauliflower rice however you'd like - this is just a simple recipe for quick and easy preparation! Want to spice up your dish even more? Add garlic, onions, shredded carrots, eggs, coconut amino (or soy sauce) and chopped chicken breast for a healthier spin on chicken fried rice.
Today we are going to cover some useful information on a spice and supplement that has been getting quite a bit of media attention over the past year. As we’ve discussed in previous posts, chronic inflammation is the building block of many chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
There are many things we can do in terms of diet to help decrease the inflammation in our body, including a high intake of omega-3 fats and a reduced intake of omega-6 fats, sugar and trans fats. Lifestyle factors also play a role in keeping inflammation at bay, including adequate sleep and stress management.
Curcumin is the main active ingredient and powerful antioxidant found in turmeric. You are likely familiar with turmeric, as it is responsible for giving curry its yellow color. Turmeric has been used traditionally for its medicinal properties for thousands of years.
Unfortunately, sprinkling turmeric on your food may not give you the potent anti-inflammatory benefits you’re looking for, as pure turmeric powder averages only 3.14% curcumin by weight (1).
Tip: If you’re using turmeric for its anti-inflammatory health benefits, I recommend pairing turmeric with black pepper. A component of black pepper called piperine enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2000%. However, if you’re using turmeric to help reduce inflammation in the intestines, you should AVOID consuming pepper with turmeric to enhance absorption. When using turmeric for combatting intestinal inflammation, it is not necessary that the turmeric is absorbed into the bloodstream and instead you want it to reach your intestines.
Research on the long-term benefits of turmeric use are limited, however there are consistent results suggesting that curcumin can be beneficial for many different conditions. Let’s review some recent findings:
Research is also emerging in the area of curcumin and Alzheimer’s disease. In one particular 6-month trial, curcumin was provided at 1 or 4 grams per day in a population of individuals 50 years and older who were experiencing a cognitive decline for at least 6 months prior to the beginning of the trial. The MMSE (a rating scale used for Alzheimer’s) was then tested and scores increased in the placebo group but were mostly halted in the group supplementing with curcumin (a higher score indicates increased cognitive decline). More research must be conducted in this are due to the small sample size (27 subjects) and other confounding factors that must be controlled but it is very promising to see these results, even from a small sample (4).
As we’ve just covered, there is a significant amount of research indicating that supplementing with turmeric is very promising at reducing pain and inflammation, so why isn’t everyone supplementing? Inflammation is the building block of many chronic diseases so wouldn’t everyone benefit from taking a turmeric supplement?
Right now there is no consensus on what dosage is appropriate and recommended dosage varies from person to person. More research is needed before this supplement becomes more mainstream but it is showing a lot of promise and could be beneficial for you (be sure to talk to your personal health practitioner before beginning any supplement regimen).
In order to increase absorption of curcumin, the turmeric supplement must contain black pepper extract or piperine.
If you’re not supplementing and simply adding more turmeric to your meals, always add black pepper to the dish.
As with many supplements, patience is key. If you decide to supplement with turmeric, please be sure to be consistent with intake over at least eight weeks, as it may take this long for benefits to become apparent. Many of the research studies conducted using turmeric/curcumin supplements lasted 6 months, so be prepared to be patient as it may take this amount of time to achieve maximum benefits.
If you cannot find a turmeric supplement at your local health food store that meets the above standards, here is a link to a good quality supplement available on Amazon.
According to Dr. Andrew Weil, you should not supplement with turmeric if...
Important to note:
Serves 6 to 8
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
2 medium white onions, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to season
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large head of cauliflower (about 2 pounds), trimmed and cut into florets
4 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or water
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 cup coconut milk
Freshly ground black pepper, to season
1/4 cup roasted cashew halves, for garnish (optional)
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley, for garnish (optional)
Red pepper flakes, for garnish (optional)
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat until shimmering. Cook the onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt until onions are soft and translucent, 8 to 9 minutes.
Reduce heat to low, add garlic, and cook for 2 additional minutes.
Add cauliflower, broth or water, coriander, turmeric, cumin, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer until cauliflower is fork-tender, about 15 minutes.
Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender until smooth and then return the soup to the soup pot. (Alternatively, use an immersion blender to purée the soup right in the pot.)
Stir in the coconut milk and warm the soup. Taste and add more salt, pepper, or spices if you’d like.
To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a handful of toasted cashews, a few springs of parsley, sprinkle of red pepper flakes, and a dash of olive oil to top.
Do you think supplementing with turmeric is right for you? Do you currently supplement with it? What have been your experiences? Please share in the comments below!
Also, I share nutrition information almost daily on my Facebook page. Please be sure to follow me here. If you find the information I share helpful, please share with your friends and family. There are many new and exciting things coming up the next month that I cannot wait to share with you all!
Yours in Health,
I hate to toot my own horn... but I must say, these are very likely the BEST whole food treat I've ever made! It took 3 batches to get it perfect (and the taste testing process was tough) but I think it is finally ready to be shared (oh the things I do for you guys)!
These brownies have a peanut butter cup twist and will make your tastebuds dance with delight! The best part? They are completely free of refined white sugar and are also gluten free AND dairy free (for my food sensitivity sufferers and die-hard primal eaters out there).
Who doesn't love the combination of peanut butter, banana and chocolate? These muffins are extremely simple and delicious. They are a great mix of healthy ingredients with a touch of sweet making them the perfect treat for people of all ages!
So many of my clients are sensitive to gluten and/or dairy meaning they typically avoid muffins at all costs. However, this recipe is 100% gluten and dairy free making it a great option for many of my clients and any of you out there who are also living with food sensitivities. Remember - if your goal is weight loss and you're constantly consuming foods you're sensitive to (and thus increasing inflammation in the body), weight loss will be extremely difficult!
Prepare a batch of these muffins this weekend and let me know what you think in the comments below!
These ribs have got to be the BEST ribs I've ever made - they fall off the bone and are absolutely delicious! One of the greatest things about this recipe is that it contains NO store bought BBQ sauce or ketchup (which we all know - many brands contain a lot of added sugar or even worse - high fructose corn syrup). Throw these in your slow cooker this weekend - you will not be disappointed!
When you're looking for a decadent dessert to prepare for your next dinner party I suggest giving this pudding a try! Feel free to spice this pudding up however you'd like - adding nuts, coconut or dark chocolate chips for a simple twist. This pudding is fantastic because it contains NO refined sugar and contains lots of healthy fats from the avocado and nut butter. This treat will keep you satisfied much longer than the traditional sugar-laden chocolate pudding. Enjoy!
This is a great meatloaf that you can prepare this weekend to have for lunches all week! This recipe is versatile - add any other vegetables you'd like. I've kept it simple with some carrots but spice things up with some leafy greens or whatever vegetables you have in your fridge! For all of you allergy or food sensitivity sufferers out there, have no fear - this recipe is dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free and gluten-free 🙂
Do you find yourself bored of the same old snacks everyday? Do you find yourself reaching for the candy dish or hitting up the vending machine just for some variety? Does your lonely snack of just an apple leave you hungrier than you were before your snack? This may sound like an infomercial but I have some great options for you!
Below I’ve outlined some tasty alternatives for traditional snack foods that are sure to spice up your day and get you excited about your snacks again. These snacks not only have great flavour but they contain a perfect balance of macronutrients (read more about balancing your blood sugar through snacks here). All of these snacks take minimal time to assemble and by preparing several of these recipes ahead of time you will be sure to stick to your nutrition plan this week (remember - it's when we allow ourselves to get too hungry or our blood sugar levels get too low that we don't make the best nutrition choices)!
During the winter months getting enough zinc is important in helping to boost our immune system. Try this recipe to get a great source of zinc and a hit of protein at snack time.
1 cup of pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons of olive oil
2 teaspoons of curry powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Preheat oven to 300F.
Coat pumpkin seeds with oil then toss with curry powder and salt.
Roast seeds on a baking sheet for 20 minutes.
I recommend a 1 ounce serving of pumpkin seeds served with 1 apple.
1/4 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
1 tablespoon of coconut oil or butter (for popping on the stove) - omit if you have an air popper
2 teaspoons of sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon of sesame seeds (optional)
Pop kernels in a stock pot over the stove with coconut oil/butter.
Once popped, remove from stock pot and toss popcorn with sesame oil and sesame seeds.
I recommend using a stockpot and some coconut oil or butter on the stove to make popcorn. Check out this YouTube video to guide you through making your own popcorn at home.
Health tip: I recommend avoiding the store bought microwave popcorn (even SmartPop or one of those “healthier” varieties). The lining of those microwave popcorn bags (perfluorooctanoic acid, also known as C8) is made of the same ingredients used in Teflon pans.
As stated by Dr. Andrew Weil
In June 2005, a scientific advisory panel to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified PFOA as a "likely carcinogen" but drew no conclusions as to whether products made with it pose a cancer risk to humans. However, animal studies have identified four types of tumors in rats and mice exposed to PFOA.
While scientific studies have not established a link between microwave popcorn bags and other products containing trace amounts of PFOA to increases in cancer in humans, the chemical has been shown to cause cancer and birth defects in animals, and it is so pervasive that it's detectable in the blood of 95 percent of Americans.
½ cup chia seeds
2 cup almond milk
1 tbsp maple syrup
4 tbsp raisins
Combine all ingredients into 4 - 4 ounce or 8 ounce mason jars (or small glass storage containers)
Stir well and let sit overnight.
Leave jars in the fridge for quick grab-and-go snacks for the week.
1/4 cup of unsalted almonds
1 ounce of dark chocolate (70-80 percent cocoa), melted in microwave or double boiler
1/2 tablespoon of dried cranberries or cherries
1/8 teaspoon of Himalayan sea salt
In a bowl, mix together almonds and melted dark chocolate.
Drop mixture onto wax paper.
Refrigerate until set.
Recipe makes 1 serving.
I recommend tripling or quadrupling this recipe to make 3 or 4 servings at one time.
1 ripe avocado, cubed
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup fresh berries
Place avocado in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
Add the remaining ingredients except the berries.
Serve topped with fresh berries.
May be kept refrigerated for one day until needed. Recipe makes 2 servings.
Hopefully these recipes help to spice up your menu plan this week! Do you have other grab-and-go recipes that you love? Share them in the comments below!
Yours in Health,
Stable blood sugar levels are important for everyone, not just people with diabetes. When our blood sugar levels are stable, we have stable energy, stable moods and our hunger remains under control. We’ve all had that feeling before, we have a sugary treat and feel a burst of energy but then before we know it we are feeling tired, hungry or irritable (sometimes all three at once – yikes!) What if I told you that you could prevent (or at least mitigate) these feelings just by combining your foods appropriately?
This term may be new to many of you – the glycemic index refers to the measure of how foods affect your blood sugar and insulin levels. Foods with a high glycemic index will affect your blood sugar and insulin levels more than foods with a low glycemic index.
When we are looking at the glycemic index of different foods, we see that foods are rated on a scale of 0-100. Pure glucose is given a glycemic index of 100 and all other foods are rated in relation to pure glucose. Since foods made up of only fat and/or protein don’t affect blood sugar levels (because only carbohydrate-containing foods affect our blood sugar) they would automatically receive a rating of 0.
High Glycemic Index Rating: 70+
Moderate Glycemic Index Rating: 56-69
Low Glycemic Index Rating: 55 or less
Let’s begin by discussing which foods have the biggest impact on our blood sugar levels. Foods that likely comes to mind are candies, cookies, and chocolates. These foods absolutely have an impact on our blood sugar and insulin levels but other foods that also our impact blood sugar and insulin levels include fruits, vegetables (some more than others), grain products and dairy products. We don’t often think of foods other than indulgent sweet foods as having a significant impact on our blood sugar levels but remember, natural sugar, added sugar and starch breakdown the same way in the body once they are consumed.
Let’s look at some of the numbers:
Grapes - 59
Carrots - 35
Potatoes - 82
Yam - 52
Green peas - 51
Fruit Roll-Ups - 99
You can see a more comprehensive list here.
In order to understand the glycemic load we need to have a good understanding of the glycemic index. So now that we’ve discussed the glycemic index and how different foods affect our blood sugar levels, let’s dive a little deeper and talk about the glycemic load.
The glycemic load is calculated by dividing the glycemic index rating by 100 and multiplying this number by the number of grams of available carbohydrate in the food (the amount of available carbohydrate is found by taking the total number of carbohydrates minus the number of grams of fibre). In simpler terms, glycemic load takes into account how much of a food we will actually consume. Let’s use watermelon for example; the glycemic index of watermelon is 72, which is high. However, the glycemic load of watermelon is only 7, which is low. Why is this? Well, if we eat the whole watermelon (approximately 5 cups), yes our blood sugar and insulin levels are going to be impacted significantly, but if we eat a cup of cut up watermelon (an appropriate serving size) it is not going to have a huge impact on our blood sugar and insulin levels. Make sense?
High Glycemic Load Rating: 20+
Moderate Glycemic Load Rating: 11-19
Low Glycemic Load Rating: 10 or less
Now let’s discuss the components of food that can fight the blood sugar spike caused by simple carbohydrates (sugars) – protein, fat and fibre.
An easy comparison to make would be to compare fruit juice versus a piece of whole fruit. The glycemic index and glycemic load of orange juice versus a whole orange is 50 and 40 respectively. The major difference between fruit juice and a piece of whole fruit is the amount of fibre each contains. One cup of 100% real orange juice contains 0 grams of fibre, whereas a whole orange contains an average of 3 grams.
So what does this tell us? Fibre reduces the glycemic index and glycemic load of a food.
Let’s use yogurt as our second example. The glycemic index and glycemic load of regular plain yogurt is 14 and the glycemic index and glycemic load of plain Greek yogurt is 5. The major difference between these two types of yogurt is the amount of protein they contain.
From this example we can see that protein reduces the glycemic index and glycemic load of a food.
For our last example we will use a slightly different comparison – fruit juice versus a chocolate bar. I use this example because I have heard from many diabetic clients over the past few years that often times they will keep a chocolate bar on hand to help bring their blood sugar up if they are having a low. When I suggest against using a chocolate bar I get the same question, “but one chocolate bar contains ___ grams of sugar, shouldn’t this help bring my blood sugar up quickly?” If we are trying to bring our blood sugar up as quickly as possible (which is only really necessary for diabetics experiencing a low blood sugar level and for athletes manipulating their blood sugar prior to or during an event) we want to have as little fat in the food/meal as possible because fat, like fibre and protein, also slows down the release of sugar into our bloodstream.
In summary, protein, fat and fibre all slow down the release of sugar from food into our bloodstream and therefore reduce the insulin response that these foods cause the body to have.
This is easy and once you start implementing these rules you will notice a huge difference in your energy, mood and hunger levels throughout the day.
At a meal, be sure to have a food that fits into each of these three categories: protein, fat and complex carbohydrate and at a snack have a food that contains fat OR protein WITH a food containing complex carbohydrates.
At a meal this combination of protein, carbohydrate and fat could be:
butter/olive oil/coconut oil on the vegetables (fat).
At a snack this could look many different ways:
Challenge this week: look at your meals and snacks to determine whether or not you are optimizing your blood sugar levels with your food choices. Use some of the snack options above and see how you feel at the end of the day. The goal is to make a small tweak with your meal and snack options to maximize your energy, improve your sleep and stabilize your mood.
Do you have some balanced snacks that you love that I didn't list above? Comment below and share!
Yours in Health,
This lazy-man's frittata is made for people who leave little to no time in the morning for breakfast. You can add any vegetables and spices you'd like, however to keep it as easy as possible I stuck to nothing you had to chop 🙂