Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Got Milk?

After reading yesterday's NY times article titled  "Got Milk? Might not be doing you much good". I thought I'd write a little something on dairy and calcium sources. While I do think calcium is an important nutrient to consume, especially for our osteopenic/osteoporotic patients, based on the research cited in this article, our average bones don't seem to be better off by guzzling down litres of milk.
I do think it's strange that humans consume so much milk. We really are the only mammals that wean from our mother's breastmilk and then consume the milk of another mammal.
I think we have been sold on this idea that milk is crucial to our diets otherwise our bones will wither and crack. I don't think I've ever drank a glass of plain milk and I've never broken a bone or fractured a hip (maybe I'm just not that daring :-) ).
Calcium has very important functions.  1% of our body's total calcium is needed for healthy heart function, muscle function, nerve transmission, intracellular signaling and hormonal secretion. The other 99% is stored in our bones and teeth.
Something to consider is how much calcium we absorb from a certain food. Milk is actually not as well absorbed compared to some of our vegetarian options. So while you may see high milligram per serving, you need to consider how much your body will actually absorb.
An example: 
1 cup of skim milk is 300 mg, and 30% absorbed, thus 90mg absorbed by the body
Broccoli has 180 mg per cup, and 60% absorbed, thus 108mg absorbed by the body

Calcium Absorption amounts:
Milk: 30%
Kale: 50%
Broccoli: 60%
BokChoy: 54%
Pinto Beans: 27%

Calcium Rich Foods that are dairy free:
Collard greens (1 cup cooked): 357 mg
Spinach (1 cup cooked): 276 mg
Oatmeal (1 cup cooked): 208 mg
Seaweeds (1/2 cup): 200 mg
Tofu (6 oz): 200mg
Broccoli (1 cup cooked): 180 mg
Chia seeds (2 tbsp): 179 mg. 
Swiss Chard (1 cup cooked): 138 mg
Blackstrap Molasses (1 tbsp): 137 mg
Kale (1 cup): 122 mg 
Almonds (1/4 cup): 95 mg
Orange (1 mdm): 55 mg
Tahini (2 tbsp): 42 mg

Just like anything in life, I believe it's all about balance and moderation.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Smoothie Love

I've rekindled my relationship with smoothies and it feels great! It's a great way for me to get the protein and pack a drink full of nutrients. I often make them in the morning and take them with me when I'm on the go, drinking them several hours later. I like letting them sit to room temperature especially on cooler days.
I keep them pretty simple. They go something like this.

I always add:
Fruit-something like mango, strawberries, blueberries, maybe 1/2 banana, or handful of spinach
Unsweetened almond milk, although I may add some boiling water to warm the smoothie, especially on these cooler day.
Genuine Health fermented protein powder or vanilla whey protein powder. 1 scoop. The fermented protein is really easy to digest and helps feed the friendly bacteria in the digestive tract. I love it. The whey vanilla is super smooth and tasty. It's kinda like dessert :-). I also add the whey to pancakes, muffins etc...
Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts- a heaping tsp. This adds healthy fats and fiber to the smoothie.

Depending on my mood I may add Ashwaganda powder, Amla Berry, Cacao, or Probiotics.
Ashwaganda 1 tsp. It is amazing at helping the body balance stress and has a calming effect to the nervous system.
Amla Berry. 1/2 tsp. Super high in vitamin C. Great for those days I need an extra boost.
Cacao is high in magnesium and isn't everything better with chocolate?
A few times per week I add a capsule of Genestra HMF forte, for some good ol' tummy love.

I like to top them with goji berries. These are high in vitamin C and become re-constituted in the smoothie,  cacao nibs (high in magnesium), cinnamon (balance blood sugar levels) or hemp hearts.
This is really for the wow factor!
 mango peach with cinnamon, hemp hearts and cacao nibs
 strawberry, spinach, cacao powder with cinnamon, goji berries and cacao nibs
 strawberry, banana and i used coconut milk instead of almond milk (just because the store was out). 
topped with unsweetened coconut flakes, goji berries and cacao nibs
bluberry, banana, cacao with goji berries on top

Monday, November 10, 2014

This is your brain on stress

I see so many people that are stressed. Heck, I'm stressed! Constantly multi-tasking, running from one place to another. I had written this post last night and saw this post this morning. How fitting. Stress actually shrinks parts of our brain. Awesome. 
Here are a few tips that just might help you, help your brain. 

There is nothing more soothing than a bowl of oatmeal. This is one nutrient rich food! It is calming to the nervous system, high in fiber, lowers cholesterol, protects the heart and balances blood sugar levels. It’s like a superfood! I will encourage you to cook your own the old fashioned way, on the stove and avoid those flavoured quick cook packs that are full of sugar. If you want your oatmeal sweet, add a swirl of maple syrup. Delicious!

Begin focusing on magnesium rich foods. Magnesium has several important functions. It regulates the absorption of calcium, which we need for healthy bones and teeth. It also regulates the contractility of the heart, a deficiency could cause heart palpitations. It also has a relaxing effect, and it’s for this reason that it is a great stress buster. Some excellent food options are; dried figs, almonds, chard, brown rice, avocados, bananas, oatmeal and dark chocolate.

I love herbal teas. There’s something so nourishing to me about a warm cup of tea. A simple cup of chamomile tea is relaxing to the nervous system as well as the digestive system.  If you’re not a fan of chamomile, give lemon balm a try. This is an aromatic herb that reduces anxiety and has relaxing effect.

Eat some chocolate daily! Isn’t this the best news ever? But before you get too excited, it has to be dark chocolate, fair trade or organic, and it can be a max of 2 squares per day.  This is a calorie dense food that can pack on the pounds if you eat a package a day, which just might give you something else to stress about.

If all else fails supplement. One of my all time favorites is ashwagnada. This is an excellent herb for people that have a lot of nervous tension, mixed with insomnia and are fatigued in the day. You can purchase it in a powdered form and add it to a smoothie or some warm almond milk. Alternatively, you can buy it in a tincture from and add some drops to water.

Lastly, don’t forget to breathe! Deep breathing has been shown to reduce anxiety, blood pressure and slow down the heart rate.  A few deep breathes can go a long way!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Dissecting granola bars and a healthier option.

Store bought granola bars are often full of sugar and perservatives.  Let's dissect.

All those underlines, of which there are 10! are all forms of sugar! and sucralose is an artifical sweetener!

Caramel colour; an artifical colouring agent making golden granola bars. Mine are golden without it. 
BHT; a perservative
Artifical flavours; i don't know where these are from, but safe to say they're artifically made :-)

Another Option! Make some.
I promise these homemade granola bars are super quick and easy to make and are such a healthier option than the packaged ones.

Here's what it looks like, fresh outta the oven!
4 cups oats
2 scoops of protein powder (I use GH vanilla whey)
1/4 cup brown sugar (it needs a little sugar for it to stick together)
Variety of nuts/seeds ie. pumpkin, almonds, hazelnuts, flax. I tend to avoid nuts and just uses seeds so i can send them to school.You can also leave this out if you're working with allergies.
Spices such as cinnamon, ginger. allspice
Optional. A handful of chocolate chip (everythings better with chocolate!)

In a separate bowl whisk; 1/2 cup olive oil with 1/2 cup maple syrup and 1 tsp vanilla.
Pour over dry ingredients and mix well.

Bake on parchment paper at 325F for about 30 min (my oven runs hot).

Let cool and break into desired pieces. enjoy!