Whole Foods That Heal

dessert-jar

I recently asked my Facebook friends for article suggestions and a few people inquired about foods that helped with digestive issues.  It is pretty obvious that our good old American diet is wrecking havoc on our digestion and leading to symptoms ranging from annoying to downright dangerous to our health.  If you look at the pharmacy section of the grocery store you see a big section of the shelves reserved for antacids, anti-gas, anti-diarrhea, and anti-constipation medication.  Here is a better idea…start eating foods that don’t cause you misery in the first place!

Here is a list of foods that don’t support our digestion or our health:

  • Fried foods
  • Sugar
  • Soda
  • Alcohol
  • White flour
  • Too much salt
  • Processed foods
  • Hydrogenated oils
  • High Fructose corn syrup

We all know that list is bad for us.  Yet, it is the typical diet for a lot of people.  Eating from that list causes Diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cancer, digestive problems, malnutrition; lack of energy…the list goes on.  People have gotten used to feeling poorly instead of wanting to do something about it.  They have forgotten what it is like to feel good, to not have digestive issues on a daily basis, and to have energy to do the things they love to do.

Food is one thing we have control over.  I read a great quote from Chris Freytag, a fitness and health guru…”Genetics loads your gun, but your environment pulls the trigger”  This means that you might have a predisposition to something based on family history but it is your choices that make them so.  You can’t expect to get diabetes because mom has it and use that as an excuse to eat poorly.  The odds are…mom got diabetes because she made poor nutrition choices and then taught them to you.  You have control over what you eat.  It really isn’t as hard as most people make it to be.  Whole foods are full of wonderful flavor and there is a ton of variety.  It might take a little effort at first to eat a whole food diet but you will get into a routine with it…just like anything else in your life.  It takes less time to steam broccoli than it does to jump in the car and go get fast food.  Make the choice to be healthy and heal your digestive issues.

Here is a sample list of healthy healing foods

  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Whole grains (try eliminating gluten containing grains…wheat, rye, barley, and spelt to see if you might have a gluten sensitivity)
  •  Berries (especially blueberries and strawberries)
  • Flax seeds
  • Apples
  • Lean meats (organic and grass fed if possible to eliminate added hormones and chemicals)
  • Wild fish (especially salmon)
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Squash
  • Beans
  • Brown rice
  • Almonds
  • Green tea

Of course this list is just a small sampling of a whole food diet. Try replacing just a few things at a time in your diet and see how much better you feel.

Chocolate

“There’s nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with chocolate.”

– Linda Grayson

Beans
Powder
Butter
Nibs
Paste

Cacao (chocolate) is one of the most delicious and healthy super foods that exist.  It is beneficial with PMS symptoms, good for metabolizing glucose, keeping the heart healthy, easing depression and it also helps as a delivery agent for many other super-foods like mushrooms, goji berries and spirulina.  In addition to supporting cardiac health and lifting moods, cacao is well-known to east symptoms of PMS, enhance glucose metabolism and may even help prevent colon cancer.

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” – Charles M. Schulz.


In it’s most natural form cacao is a seed.  Everything chocolate comes from a seed and is called cocoa beans.  Chocolate does not have sugar or dairy not unless you add it.  If you want a delicious, high energy weight loss food; chocolate is your bean!

What is in chocolate and what it does

Magnesium – #1 source of
heart, brain, muscle cramping, elimination, alkaline, bone strength
Iron
blood
Chromium
balances blood sugar

Copper
blood, immunity
Manganese
blood

Vitamin C
Zinc
immunity, liver, pancreas, skin

 

Omega-6 Fatty Acids
(healthy unless chocolate is cooked…then it is a trans fat)
Phenylethlamine
focus, alertness, appetite suppressant
Anandamide
endorphin (same as what is released after exercising)
Tryptophan
mood enhancing,
Seratonin
stress defense (feel good)
Fiber
elimination
Methylxantines
antibacterial, cardiovascular
Oxalic Acid
(when cooked is bad for the kidneys)

 

There are also many good reasons to eat chocolate only when raw.  The oxalic acid and omega 6 fatty acids become problematic (trans fat and oxalates).  There are a lot of delicious ways to use raw cacao.  You can buy nibs, powder and cacao butter.  One of the special qualities cacao has for is to hide the flavor of foods that don’t taste so great.  You can eat spirulina with cacao and never even taste it.

One of my favorite foods with raw cacao is so easy and healthy and delicious that you won’t believe it! This protein immunity pudding can be added to or subtracted from and you can’t mess it up (something easy exactly what you need in the kitchen). It’s too good for me not to share so here it is:

Chocolate Protein Pudding

Ingredients Needed:

1/2 cup coconut milk
1 little chunk of cocoa butter
1 tsp coconut oil
3 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup cacao powder
1 tsp reishi mushroom
1 tsp chaga mushrooms
1 tbsp spirulina
1 handful of spinach
1 handful frozen strawberries
1 handful goji berries
a very small pinch of raw vanilla

Preparation:

In mixer soak chia seeds with coconut milk for 30 minutes then add in the rest and blend

Sprinkle with cocoa nibs or bee pollen…

IT IS YUMMY and so healthy.

You can also make maca bars that Brendan Brazier put out as a recipe for Mother’s day.  Those are one of my favorite treats!  Raw cacao, maca, maple syrup, macadamia nuts, coconut….yummmmm.  They make a delicious (and good for you!) treat.

You can make protein bars with raw cacao and hemp protein and a few other wonderful ingredients including coconut oil.

There are so many raw goodies you can make with cacao that are really healthy.  The one feeling I think I can say that I consistently get when eating chocolate is “decadence”, frivolous and lovely indulgence of the sweetest and healthiest kind.  I make smoothies with cacao, coconut milk, banana, spinach and that is it. It is healthy as can be and it tastes delicious!

David Wolfe’s established recommended moderate daily intake is 1 cacao bean per 11-17 pounds of body weight.  If you weigh 150 pounds you would eat about 10 cacao beans a day.

 

Fall is in the Roots

Fall is here and the veggie garden is full of root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, turnips, and beets.  Root vegetables are a great source of many nutrients because they absorb minerals and other nutrients straight from the soil as well as getting them from their leaves that soak up the sun.  There are many vibrant colors of these tasty vegetables including the orange of carrots, the deep reds of beets, the gold of sweet potatoes, and even the purple of some potatoes.  This year we planted these delightful potatoes and my daughter thought it was the coolest to have purple French fries!

All of these beautiful colors mean that they are high in antioxidants and phytonutrients.  The deeper and richer the color … the more phytonutrients.  Beets are beneficial for keeping LDL cholesterol (the small sticky molecules of cholesterol) from clogging arteries protecting our hearts and preventing strokes.  Carrots have high vitamin C content and beta carotene that protects eyes and lowers risk of cancer.  Onions and garlic help lower cholesterol, lower risk of heart disease and stoke, and boosts immune function.  Many roots have been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times. Ginger is great for nausea, garlic is an antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal, burdock root is great for skin, and fennel root has been used to improve digestion.

Root vegetables were once thought of as peasant food.  They are easily grown and harvested and can be stored throughout the winter for inexpensive nutrition.  They are high in complex carbohydrates, high in fiber, and low in calories and fat.  They can be used in soups, stews, casseroles, steamed, BBQ, juiced, eaten in salads, and eaten raw.

One great way to eat root vegetables is to roast them.  Roasting brings out the sweetness by breaking down the sugars.  The more you cook a root vegetable, the higher the Glycemic Index which means the sugars move into the blood stream faster.

Here is a great recipe that I found for Roasted Root Vegetables.

 

Rustic Balsamic-Roasted Root Vegetables

by THE GILDED FORK on 10/03/2005

roasted veggies

 

 

 

 

Serves 6-8 people as a side dish

Ingredients

Balsamic marinade:
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup Pinot Gris
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chervil, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon coarse French sea salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, coarsely ground
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Root vegetables:
4 baby red potatoes, quartered with skin on
4 white fingerling potatoes, with skin on, sliced ¼-inch thick on the diagonal
3 purple potatoes, quartered with skin on
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds
1 medium yam, halved then sliced ¼-inch thick
1 small beetroot, quartered with skin on
1 large carrot, with skin on, sliced ¼-inch thick on the diagonal
1 bulb garlic, peel cloves and leave whole
1 chipolone onion, peeled and quartered
3 sprigs fresh rosemary (optional)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375.

Prepare the balsamic marinade:
Combine all ingredients, whisk together and set aside.

Prepare the root vegetables:
Place the roots into a large mixing bowl.  Pour the prepared marinade over the roots and toss to coat. Place into 13″x9″ pan, assemble rosemary sprigs on top.  Roast uncovered for approximately 45 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Pierce with a fork to test for tenderness.

To Detox or Not to Detox…

What does it mean to detox?

Much of our processed food, our environment, and even our own bodies create toxins.  There are many schools of thought about detox diets and some can be very extreme.  Detox diets can range from full on fasting, juice fasts, lemon juice and maple syrup, to eating clean food (not processed).  Personally, I prefer the more gentle method of detox which involves eating real food, moving the body gently, and taking nice relaxing  baths.  I have tried some of the more extreme methods of detox diets and I felt miserable and hungry.

Here is a great article from Huffington Post about Detox Diets

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Fall is a great time to give your body some loving care after indulging all summer.  Check out our newest program...12 Day Detox Diet..It uses real food and gentle tips for reducing stress to help fortify your body.

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Are you Coconuts!

We have been told for years that fat is bad for us, it makes us fat, and we should avoid it if possible.  The food pyramid…which I suggest you throw in the trash…has us eating only a fraction of the fat that our bodies need to be healthy.  Our markets are filled with low fat processed foods pretending to be healthy and marketing commercials fill us with wrong information.

I am here to tell you that FAT IS HEALTHY!  Our bodies need fat for our nervous system, immune system, and endocrine system to function properly.  If you eat the right kind of fat…you will actually lose weight!  I will share a little information on a healthy fat that is actually a saturated fat.  Yes…You read right…a saturated fat that is very healthy for us!

Coconut oil has gained a lot of attention in the world of healthy nutrition.  It is the oil that is extracted from the meat of mature coconuts and is over 90% saturated fat.  The main components of coconut oil are short and medium chain triglycerides.  Three of these components, lauric acic, capric acid, and caprylic acid seem to have antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, and antibacterial properties making it beneficial for many systems in the body.

There are numerous health benefits of coconut oil including:

  • weight loss
  • increased immunity
  • improved digestion
  • increased metabolism
  • prevents premature aging
  • beneficial for skin and hair
  • lowers blood pressure
  • maintain healthy cholesterol
  • heals arteries
  • sooths irritable bowel syndrome

Athletes use coconut oil because it boosts energy and endurance.  The fatty acids are easily assimilated and convert easily to energy in the liver, thereby reducing stress on the liver.  It is also great for middle aged women who are prone to osteoporosis.  Coconut oil helps absorption of bone enhancing minerals like calcium and magnesium to help maintain bone density.  Teeth also benefit. It is a great oil to use in a weight loss program as it reduces stress to endocrine organs (helping to maintain healthy hormone levels…especially the pancreas and thyroid), it increases metabolism, and is easily utilized for energy.

Coconut oil is a very stable oil making it a great oil for high temperature cooking.  It is slow to oxidize (oxidation creates damaging free radicals) and is resistant to rancidity.  Of course with any food grade product…there are different ways to process coconut oil.  You want to look for the least processed oil and preferably organic.  Here are a few labels you want to avoid as it is not the healthiest version of the oil:  RBD (refined, bleached, and deodorized) coconut oil, hydrogenated, and fractionated.  You can find healthy coconut oil and health food stores and online.

So go coconuts!

Eating like a Caveman?

There is a lot of hype about the Paleo or otherwise known as the Caveman Diet. Is this how we should really be eating? Of course you can take any diet to extreme. The one aspect of the Paleo diet that I like is that it eliminates all processed foods and grains. Our typical diet is very sugar and processed grain centric which has led to an epidemic of obesity proportions. The typical food pyramid that was introduced in the 1970’s tells us that the majority of our nutrition should come from grains and that we should limit fats. What has this led to? Metabolic syndrome, obesity, and diabetes.
Paleo comes from the idea that the caveman had very little grain in their diets. Their diet consisted of protein, fats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Now the caveman only lived a short life compared to what we eat so it is hard to say how long they would have lived today. What the Paleo diet does provide is a healthy balance of low glycemic foods to help control blood sugars and insulin levels. It provides healthy fats to help keep our endocrine systems functioning properly thus leading to healthy body composition.
I recommend adopting many of the principles outlined in the Paleo lifestyle. Here is a recipe book to get you started.
Paleo Cookbooks - Recipes for the Paleo Diet