Lentil, Quinoa & Kimchi Salad

April 25th, 2018 | no comments

Earlier this week I was doing some serious scrambling for dinner. The refrigerator was full of food but I was empty of motivation. So what did I come up with? Olives, roasted broccoli, and slices of Gouda cheese. Yeah, I know…pitiful, right?

Then I remembered the containers of cooked lentils and quinoa in the refrigerator– these are weekly staples in the Jatsek household, as I like to have them on hand to add as quick nutrition-boosters to salads and even omelets.

I grabbed the jar of Wake Robin Kickin’ Kimchi and what I came up with was a surprisingly tasty and nutritious side salad brimming with protein, fiber, and probiotics! 

Lentil, Quinoa & Kimchi Salad makes for a great side dish or a standalone lunch. I’m sure you will love it! 

Print Recipe
Lentil, Quinoa & Kimchi Salad
Thanks to the addition of just a couple spoonfuls of kimchi, this little salad packs a flavorful punch! Kimchi is a staple in Korean cuisine. A blend of fermented daikon radish, carrot, onion, bok choi, apple, red pepper, ginger and garlic, kimchi is a wonderful source of friendly bacteria, called probiotics. This recipe is vegan, dairy free, and gluten free. 2 Earthfoods per serving: ♥♥
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup lentils, cooked
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, cooked
  • 1/4 cup raw unsalted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted
  • 1/4 cup kimchi Wake Robin Kickin' Kimchi
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 tbsp. Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup lentils, cooked
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, cooked
  • 1/4 cup raw unsalted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted
  • 1/4 cup kimchi Wake Robin Kickin' Kimchi
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 tbsp. Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook lentils and quinoa according to package directions. Boil an entire bag of lentils and extra quinoa and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Use throughout the week in soups, sauces, salads, casseroles, and omelets!
  2. Toast pumpkin seeds in toaster oven or in a skillet over medium heat until golden brown. Be careful because they can burn quickly!
  3. Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix thoroughly until combined. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving: Calories: 285Total Fat: 10 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Sodium: 125 mg; Potassium: 195 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 38 g; Dietary fiber: 10 g; Net Carbohydrates: 28 grams; Sugar:  3 g; Protein: 13 g

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A 5-Step Plan to Kick Your Sugar Habit in 10-Days

April 19th, 2018 | no comments

 

Plus:

In last week’s post I mentioned how, over the years, I slowly trained my taste buds to prefer less sweet. But I didn’t tell you how to do it yourself! That’s why I’m back with a plan to help you kick your sugar habit…in just ten days!

And just in case you need a good reason to say goodbye to sugar (at least for now), click HERE

If you’re serious…

If you’re serious about cutting sugar out of your diet, I’d like you to join me from April 23rd through May 2nd for the 10-Day FED UP Challenge. It originated from the 2014 Documentary “Fed Up”—a movie supported by the Institute for Functional Medicine—which exposes the truth about sugar and the processed food industry. You can view the movie online at: www.fedupmovie.com.

To participate in the challenge, you are asked to give up all forms of added sugar for ten days.

Sounds easy enough, right? The rules of the challenge are simple, however the challenge itself will probably be one of the most difficult, yet rewarding feats you’ve ever accomplished…but I know you’re up for it!

Your taste buds are trained, by you, to crave the very foods you are placing upon them. So if they are used to getting sugar, they will crave sugar. But don’t worry; your cravings will subside after a couple of days, so hang in there!

If you’re up for the challenge, I’ll be posting tips on my Facebook page to support you, so go ahead and send me a friend request now!

In the mean time, here are five steps to help you kick your sugar habit over the ten-day challenge:

5 Steps to Kick Your Sugar Habit in 10-Days

Step one: Drink only healthy beverages

Refrain from drinking sweetened beverages (including ALL alcohol) and from adding sugar in any form or zero-calorie sweeteners to your drinks (Click HERE for a list of added sugars).

Zero-calorie sweeteners include: Acesulfame potassium (Sweet One; ACK; Ace K), aspartame (Equal; NutraSweet), erythritol, isomalt, maltitol, mannitol, monk fruit, neotame, polydextrose, saccharin (Sweet’ N Low), sorbitol, stevia (Pure Via, Truvia), sucralose (Splenda), tagatose, xylitol.

Healthy beverages include: water, unsweetened tea or coffee, or any one of the recommended beverages from this list: Your favorite foods without added sugar.

Step two: Become a label detective

Understand that sugar occurs naturally in foods like fruits, vegetables, unsweetened milk and yogurt, unprocessed grains (i.e. quinoa, oats, etc.), beans and nuts, and therefore when you look at the grams of sugar on the Nutrition Facts label, you will notice it contains some. Don’t worry about naturally occurring sugar because that’s not the type that will get you into trouble.

Before putting it in your cart, scan the ingredient list of all food labels for added sugar (Click HERE for a list of added sugars).

I’m not going to lie; this will be uber-frustrating at first. When you realize just how many of your favorite foods contain added sugar, you’ll probably want to sit down in the middle of the aisle and cry like a toddler sitting on Santa’s lap for the first time.

Here’s a short (yet far from exhaustive) list of sneaky foods with added sugar that may surprise you:

Alcohol mixers Cereal (hot and cold) Ketchup Smoothies
Peanut butter Crackers Jerky Salad dressing
Bread Dried fruit Nutrition bars Soup
Barbecue sauce Frozen meals Protein powder Spaghetti sauce
Beverages Meal replacement shakes Canned/jarred fruit Yogurt

 

Once you invest this small amount of time, your shopping trips will be much easier the next time around.

Step three: Make healthier choices with whole, unprocessed foods

Build your meals around single ingredient, unprocessed foods like: fruits, vegetables, small amounts of unprocessed grains (i.e. quinoa, oats, etc.), beans, nuts/seeds, herbs and spices, eggs, and fresh meats and seafood. If you need help with meal planning, click HERE.

Step four: Upgrade your favorite foods

Feeling deflated because you just found out your favorite brand of crackers—Ritz crackers—is made with the added sugar high fructose corn syrup (by the way…it’s true!)? Don’t worry, nine times out of ten you can find a suitable alternative to your favorite brands… without added sugar. Take a gander at THIS LIST for healthier, sugar-free, artificial sweetener-free alternatives.

Step five: Bust through cravings with these tips

This all sounds great in theory doesn’t it? But what happens when you get a craving for sugar that just won’t go away? Here are six helpful tips to carry you through your weak moments:

Tip #1: Eat something sour!
Anything sour, such as a spoonful of fermented vegetables, half of a grapefruit, a glass of lemon water, or a cup of hot water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, can really stop your sugar craving in its tracks!

TRY: Cleveland Kraut, Wake Robin, or Farmhouse Culture fermented vegetables; Fresh squeezed lemon or Lakewood Organic Pure Lemon Juice; Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar.

Tip #2: Fill up on fiber
Fiber-rich foods, like fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and beans, can aid in blood sugar management. This is important because when your blood sugar spikes and crashes, hunger and sugar cravings are right around the corner waiting to suck you in! Remember, the goal is 25-35 grams of dietary fiber per day.

Click HERE for a list of high-fiber foods to get you started!

Tip #3: Eat a piece of fruit (and pair it with fat!)
It’s amazing how incredibly sweet fruit tastes to me now…even grapefruit! But it wasn’t always this way. I had to gradually reset my taste buds almost to baseline in order for this shift to happen. Like an infant getting her first spoonful of pureed peaches, it’s a pretty intense-level of sweet too! 

As you go through this challenge, and find yourself in the mood for something sweet, grab a piece of fruit, like an apple or pear (leave the skin on!) and combine it with a tablespoon of fresh ground almond or peanut butter, a small handful of nuts, or a piece of cheese to level your blood sugar.

You will soon be pleasantly surprised to discover how quickly your tastes change, and I’m sure you’ll agree that fruit really is nature’s candy!

Tip #4: Try L-Glutamine powder
L-Glutamine is an amino acid, one of the building blocks of protein. It is a powerful multitasker that can help you fight sugar and alcohol cravings and balance blood sugar. 

Try a teaspoon of L-Glutamine powder mixed in your morning smoothie, or in this week’s recipe pick for Craving-Crusher Water.

NOTE: glutamine supplementation may be contraindicated with certain drug therapies and in the presence of medical conditions, such as liver disease. Check with your doctor before taking L-Glutamine powder.

Tip #5: Eat consistent meals every 4-5 hours
If you skip meals or wait too long to eat, your blood sugar will come crashing down and sugar will become irresistible. If you know more than 4-5 hours will pass between meals, plug in a healthy snack like a handful of nuts. A reasonable schedule looks like this:

8:00 am—Breakfast
12:00 pm—Lunch
3:00 pm—Snack
6:00 pm—Dinner

Tip #6: Drink plenty of water
Thirst can disguise itself as a craving, so drink lots of water throughout the day—enough to produce urine that is pale yellow in color, like a glass of diluted lemonade. Don’t like plain water? Add a twist of fresh lemon, lime, orange, or grapefruit to your water or try one of the alternative suggestions offered HERE.

You can do this!

Once you’ve completed the challenge, you can decide whether you want to return to your old sugar habits. Or maybe you’ll find that you really didn’t miss it and choose to cut way back from here on out. I have a sense you will feel so good after going sugar-free for ten days, that the way you think about the sugar in your foods will be forever changed…even if only in a small way.

Are you with me? If so, friend request me on Facebook! I’m waiting… 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Craving-Crusher Water

Sip on this tonic throughout the day and you’ll be one step ahead of your cravings!

A combination of three key sugar-busting ingredients—fiber (in the form of chia seeds or Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Organic Fiber), lemon, and L-Glutamine powder—Craving-Crusher Water is pleasant to the taste buds and will help you meet your daily water quota!

L-Glutamine is a powerful multitasker, ideal for:

  • Fighting cravings, especially for sugar and alcohol
  • Burning fat and building muscle
  • Protection from digestive issues like ulcers and leaky gut
  • Strengthening your immune system
  • Detoxifying your body on a cellular level
  • Balancing blood sugar

If you don’t appreciate the texture of hydrated chia seeds, then simply replace it with the fiber powder.

Print Recipe
Craving-Crusher Water
Sip on this tonic throughout the day and you'll be one step ahead of your cravings! 1 Earthfood per serving: ♥ (if using chia seeds)
Servings
serving
Ingredients
  • 1 whole lemon or lime Including juice and zest
  • 32 ounces water
  • 1 tsp. L-Glutamine Powder NOW Brand of L-Glutamine
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds or 2 tsp. Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Organic Fiber
  • 1/2 thinly sliced lemon
Servings
serving
Ingredients
  • 1 whole lemon or lime Including juice and zest
  • 32 ounces water
  • 1 tsp. L-Glutamine Powder NOW Brand of L-Glutamine
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds or 2 tsp. Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Organic Fiber
  • 1/2 thinly sliced lemon
Instructions
  1. In a pitcher, stir together the lemon zest, lemon juice, and water. Add glutamine powder and chia seeds (or fiber) and combine well. Stir in lemon slices and serve!
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving (calculated using chia seeds): Calories: 70Total Fat: 3 g; Saturated Fat: 0 g; Sodium: 0 mg; Potassium: 120 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 9 g; Dietary fiber: 5 g; Net Carbohydrates: 4 grams; Sugar: 1 g; Protein: 3 g

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Craving-Crusher Water

April 19th, 2018 | no comments

Sip on this tonic throughout the day and you’ll be one step ahead of your cravings!

A combination of three key sugar-busting ingredients—fiber (in the form of chia seeds or Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Organic Fiber), lemon, and L-Glutamine powder—Craving-Crusher Water is pleasant to the taste buds and will help you meet your daily water quota!

L-Glutamine is a powerful multitasker, ideal for:

  • Fighting cravings, especially for sugar and alcohol
  • Burning fat and building muscle
  • Protection from digestive issues like ulcers and leaky gut
  • Strengthening your immune system
  • Detoxifying your body on a cellular level
  • Balancing blood sugar

If you don’t appreciate the texture of hydrated chia seeds, then simply replace it with the fiber powder. 

Print Recipe
Craving-Crusher Water
Sip on this tonic throughout the day and you'll be one step ahead of your cravings! 1 Earthfood per serving: ♥ (if using chia seeds)
Servings
serving
Ingredients
  • 1 whole lemon or lime Including juice and zest
  • 32 ounces water
  • 1 tsp. L-Glutamine Powder NOW Brand of L-Glutamine
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds or 2 tsp. Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Organic Fiber
  • 1/2 thinly sliced lemon
Servings
serving
Ingredients
  • 1 whole lemon or lime Including juice and zest
  • 32 ounces water
  • 1 tsp. L-Glutamine Powder NOW Brand of L-Glutamine
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds or 2 tsp. Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Organic Fiber
  • 1/2 thinly sliced lemon
Instructions
  1. In a pitcher, stir together the lemon zest, lemon juice, and water. Add glutamine powder and chia seeds (or fiber) and combine well. Stir in lemon slices and serve!
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving (calculated using chia seeds): Calories: 70Total Fat: 3 g; Saturated Fat: 0 g; Sodium: 0 mg; Potassium: 120 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 9 g; Dietary fiber: 5 g; Net Carbohydrates: 4 grams; Sugar: 1 g; Protein: 3 g

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What about stevia?

April 12th, 2018 | no comments

 

Plus:

If I had my way, artificial sweeteners wouldn’t exist (for a list of artificial sweeteners and to better understand my disdain for them, click HERE).

I can read your mind: “But Melanie, what about stevia?”

First, what exactly is stevia anyways? It’s a plant grown in South America that has been used for centuries as a natural sweetener and health remedy. It has two main components that lend to its sweetness: stevioside and rebaudioside. Both are sweet, but stevioside has a slightly bitter aftertaste. 

There are three forms of stevia on the market today:

  1. Green leaf stevia: contains both stevioside and rebaudioside.
  2. Stevia extracts: most brands contain only rebaudioside.
  3. Highly processed stevia (white powder): contain only rebaudioside.

Green leaf stevia:

Green leaf stevia is by far the best option of the three because it is the closest to nature and the form touted for its health benefits (especially from stevioside component). It is literally the stevia plant ground up into a powder, making it the least processed and therefore the only form I recommend. 

Green leaf stevia is 30 to 40 times sweeter than sugar, so be sure to use it sparingly. Because it contains stevioside (in addition to rebaudioside), this form of stevia has a slightly bitter aftertaste. 

If you purchase it in the dried, whole leaf form you can either add it directly to your food or grind it up using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.

Try adding a pinch of ground stevia to warm beverages like coffee or tea or sprinkle in your smoothie before blending. An alternative to purchasing dried or ground green leaf stevia is to buy a stevia plant for your garden and use the fresh leaves!

When scanning the ingredient list on a food label, look for the words “whole leaf stevia”. Organic Traditions is a reputable company that sells Organic Green Leaf Stevia Powder.  

Stevia extract:

Stevia extract is made by extracting the sweeter part of the stevia leaf (rebaudioside), which unfortunately doesn’t contain the health benefits found in green leaf stevia. It is 200 times sweeter than regular sugar. Remember, the sweeter the substance, the more likely you are to experience hunger, sugar cravings and sugar dependence. This is the reason I do not recommend stevia extract, nor do I use it myself.

Processed stevia (white powder):

Put simply, I am not a fan of the highly processed and refined forms of stevia such as Truvia, Pur Via and Stevia in the Raw, all which can contain additives. Not only is it 200 to 300 times sweeter than regular sugar, this form goes through a 40-step process to make…now if that doesn’t fit the definition of highly processed, I don’t know what does! If you have any of these powdered forms of stevia in your kitchen, please toss them in the garbage.

What do I use to sweeten my food?

Well, I don’t use stevia…even in the green leaf stevia form. I tried it, but it’s just too sweet for me!

Over the years, I have trained my taste buds to prefer less sweet, and as a result I use very little sweetener in anything I prepare. If I choose to add a sweetener, I just add a drizzle of natural sugar, such as pure maple syrup, raw honey, or coconut nectar. Sometimes a sprinkle of fresh ground cinnamon or unsweetened coconut flakes is all it takes and there’s no need for any additional sweetener!

If I have a taste for something sweet and a cluster of grapes just won’t cut it, I whip up a batch of Chocolate Almond Truffles, sweetened with just a touch of pure maple syrup.

I always have some really good high quality dark chocolate (72% cacao or higher) on hand too– a square or two is all it takes to satisfy my craving. I’m proud to say I’ve made it all the way up to 88% cacao and now, the 72% tastes too sweet!

It’s important that you understand I didn’t start out this way. I had to work my way up from Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Cadbury Eggs (yes…you read that correctly). To train my taste buds, I increased the percentage cacao little by little until I hit 88%: 50%→60%→72%→80%→88% (Woo hoo!) 😉 

Mel’s weekly product pick:
Endangered Species Dark Chocolate


A chocolate that is organic, fairtrade, vegan, and free of GMOs and gluten– Endangered Species Chocolate 
supports sustainable farming practices and pays a social premium for their ingredients to ensure that farmers are supported and species are protected.

What I love most about Endangered Species Chocolate is how they donate 10% of their net profits to help wildlife thrive.

They offer a variety of 72% cacao (and higher) bars. My favorite is their 88% Dark Chocolate bar– super intense and full of antioxidants. I break the bar into six pieces and store in an airtight container. When I have a taste for chocolate (which is almost every night), take a piece and let it melt on my tongue…pure bliss!  

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Chocolate Almond Truffles

This recipe is courtesy of Carla IaFelice, a Wellness Consultant for Heinen’s Grocery Store. It’s no-bake, uses only six simple ingredients, and takes less than 10 minutes to prepare.

The raw cacao powder-almond butter-sea salt combo means these truffles are a decadent blend of salty, sweet, and creamy. Whip up a quick batch and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or freezer for up to a month.

Oh, and by the way…each truffle contains 4 grams of fiber and only 5 grams of sugar!

Print Recipe
Chocolate Almond Truffles
If you are looking for something quick and sweet...and want to actually feel good about your "indulgence", then this recipe is for you! Free from gluten, grains, and dairy! 1 Earthfood per serving: ♥
Course Sweet Treats
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings (1 truffle = 1 serving)
Ingredients
  • 1 cup almond flour I like Bob's Redmill brand
  • 1/2 cup fresh ground almond butter
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder I like Navitas brand
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 pinches Sea salt
Course Sweet Treats
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings (1 truffle = 1 serving)
Ingredients
  • 1 cup almond flour I like Bob's Redmill brand
  • 1/2 cup fresh ground almond butter
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder I like Navitas brand
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 pinches Sea salt
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients together and roll into twelve ping-pong sized truffles. Add a tablespoon of water to the dough if too crumbly.
  2. Store truffles in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or freezer for up to a month.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving (1 truffle): Calories: 150Total Fat: 11 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Sodium: 30 mg; Potassium: 160 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 11 g; Dietary fiber: 4 g; Net Carbohydrates: 7 grams; Sugar: 5 g; Protein: 4 g

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Chocolate Almond Truffles

April 12th, 2018 | no comments

This recipe is courtesy of Carla IaFelice, a Wellness Consultant for Heinen’s Grocery Store. It’s no-bake, uses only six simple ingredients, and takes less than 10 minutes to prepare.

The raw cacao powder-almond butter-sea salt combo means these truffles are a decadent blend of salty, sweet, and creamy. Whip up a quick batch and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or freezer for up to a month.

Oh, and by the way…each truffle contains 4 grams of fiber and only 5 grams of sugar!

Print Recipe
Chocolate Almond Truffles
If you are looking for something quick and sweet...and want to actually feel good about your "indulgence", then this recipe is for you! Free from gluten, grains, and dairy! 1 Earthfood per serving: ♥
Course Sweet Treats
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings (1 truffle = 1 serving)
Ingredients
  • 1 cup almond flour I like Bob's Redmill brand
  • 1/2 cup fresh ground almond butter
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder I like Navitas brand
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 pinches Sea salt
Course Sweet Treats
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings (1 truffle = 1 serving)
Ingredients
  • 1 cup almond flour I like Bob's Redmill brand
  • 1/2 cup fresh ground almond butter
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder I like Navitas brand
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 pinches Sea salt
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients together and roll into twelve ping-pong sized truffles. Add a tablespoon of water to the dough if too crumbly.
  2. Store truffles in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or freezer for up to a month.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving (1 truffle): Calories: 150Total Fat: 11 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Sodium: 30 mg; Potassium: 160 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 11 g; Dietary fiber: 4 g; Net Carbohydrates: 7 grams; Sugar: 5 g; Protein: 4 g

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You are 99% bacteria!

April 5th, 2018 | no comments

Plus:

  • Mel’s weekly product pick:
    Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotics Mood +
  • Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
    Grain-free Granola

 

You might find it hard to believe, but the bacteria living in your gut outnumber the cells of your body by a factor of ten to one. And did you also know that 99% of your genetic material is bacterial DNA, and not the DNA you inherited from your parents?

Yes, this means you are 99% bacteria!

Typically when we think of bacteria on our body, we immediately have the urge to break out a bottle of hand sanitizer. Not so fast! Many of these bacteria are beneficial to your health, and destroying them is the worst thing you could do.

This collection of more than 100 trillion organisms living within your intestines, mouth and nose, called your microbiome, influences practically everything about you, including your:

  • Mood
  • Immune system
  • Risk of developing cancer and diabetes
  • Sleep
  • Digestion
  • Body weight
  • Food cravings

Bacteria and food cravings…

I find the link between the health of our microbiome and our food cravings and body weight, especially intriguing.

These little bugs are quite manipulative and can control what we eat by inducing food cravings, making us prefer one food over another. For example, researchers are finding that bacteria can release toxins in response to certain foods. These toxins will make us feel good when we eat something they like and not-so-good when they disagree with our food choices. But this doesn’t mean that the foods they prefer are the ones that are actually good for us.

I know this may sound like hopeless news, but don’t worry, you can actually manipulate your gut bacteria to assure the survival and growth of good bacteria, and therefore induce healthy food cravings. The key is twofold: to fuel your body with foods that populate good bacteria and to minimize those foods, substances, and habits that can destroy them in favor of the bad ones.

How to grow good bacteria…

To grow and sustain the good bacteria, in addition to eating a balanced diet chock full of a wide variety of plant-based foods and low in processed foods, you’ll also want to eat a steady supply of probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods.

Probiotics are foods or supplements containing live bacteria that replace or add to the beneficial bacteria normally present in your gut. They include:

  • Raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar: Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Fermented soybeans: natto, miso, and tempeh
  • Fermented vegetables: raw sauerkraut, kimchi, beets, pickles, carrots
  • Kefir: a fermented milk beverage
  • Kombucha: fermented tea
  • Kvass: fermented beverage made from sourdough bread, beets, or various fruits
  • Unflavored/unsweetened yogurt
  • Protein powders
  • Probiotic supplements

Prebiotics, on the other hand, are food for the good bacteria and are just as important as probiotics. They include nuts (check out this week’s recipe pick for Grain-free Granola— full of prebiotic-rich nuts and seeds!) and vegetables and fruits such as asparagus, leeks, artichokes, garlic, carrots, peas, beans, onions, chicory, jicama, broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, spinach, kale, and chard, and fresh or frozen bananas, cherries, apples, pears, oranges, strawberries, cranberries, kiwi, and berries.

Personally, I take a few steps each day to make sure I’m keeping the good bugs alive and growing in my body. First, I take a probiotic supplement every morning. I follow that up with a nice hot cup of water with one tablespoon of Bragg apple cider vinegar mixed in. For breakfast, I add prebiotic-rich frozen blueberries and fresh kale to my smoothie. I end my day with another cup of hot water and apple cider vinegar. In between I chow down on several servings of fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds to get me through the day.

These things can destroy good bacteria…

The second step in populating a healthy microbiome is to minimize those foods, substances and habits that can destroy good bacteria, including: overuse of antibiotics and hand sanitizers, smoking, chronic stress, lack of sleep, processed foods, refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, and meat and dairy products full of hormones.

Here’s the good news…

The good news is the bacteria in your microbiome have a lifespan of about 20 minutes. This means you have the opportunity to build a population of healthy bacteria every time you eat!

Unless you eat a regular diet of fermented vegetables and kombucha, I recommend you take a high quality probiotic supplement every day. Following is a list of brands that I recommend.

  • Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotics: Once Daily Men’s; Once Daily Women’s; Fitbiotic (powdered formulation that supports digestion and weight management); Mood+ (promotes emotional wellbeing and digestion)
  • Garden of Life Primal Defense: available in powder or capsules.
  • Garden of Life Raw Probiotics: Women; Men; Women 50 & Wiser; Men 50 & Wiser.
Mel’s weekly product pick:
Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotics Mood + 

This is my personal favorite probiotic. I take it every morning on an empty stomach while waiting for my coffee to brew.

A unique formula with clinically studied strains to support mood, Dr. Formulated Probiotics Mood + contains 50 billion CFU (colony forming units) and 16 probiotic strains per serving. 

I adore this formulation because it includes 350 mg of organic ashwagandha and organic Alaskan blueberries for stress management. It really does make a difference!

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Grain-free Granola

I love granola, but unfortunately there aren’t many brands out there that I would actually buy. Most are way too high in sugar!

This week’s recipe pick is one that I adapted slightly from Tastes of Lizzy T. It’s full of prebiotic-rich nuts to help fertilize the good bacteria in your gut: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), almonds, and pecans!

The only sugar is from naturally sweetened dates. If you prefer a hint of sweet, you could always add a touch of raw honey or pure maple syrup prior to baking.

This recipe is free of dairy, gluten, and of course…grains!

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Grain-free Granola
A delicious recipe without all of the added sugar of traditional granola! Full of prebiotic-rich nuts and seeds to grow the friendly bacteria in your gut. I enjoy this granola as a snack or sprinkled over apple slices that have been dipped in fresh ground almond butter. Free of grains, dairy, and gluten! 1 Earthfood per serving: ♥
Course Breakfast, Snack
Servings
servings (serving size: 1/4 cup)
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw unsalted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 cup raw unsalted sunflower seeds, shelled
  • 1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup unsalted almonds, sliced
  • 2 cups unsalted pecans, chopped
  • 10 dates chopped
  • 1/3 cup unrefined coconut oil
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Dash or two Sea salt
Course Breakfast, Snack
Servings
servings (serving size: 1/4 cup)
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw unsalted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 cup raw unsalted sunflower seeds, shelled
  • 1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup unsalted almonds, sliced
  • 2 cups unsalted pecans, chopped
  • 10 dates chopped
  • 1/3 cup unrefined coconut oil
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Dash or two Sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Melt coconut oil and add to a small bowl, along with cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Mix well and pour over the dry mixture. Stir to combine and evenly coat.
  3. Spread the granola on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Stir, then bake an additional 5 minutes. Allow to cool completely before storing in container. Enjoy as a snack or mixed into plain Greek yogurt!
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving (1/4 cup): Calories: 210; Total Fat: 19 grams; Saturated Fat: 6 grams; Sodium: 30 mg; Potassium: 143 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 8 grams; Dietary Fiber: 3 grams; Net Carbohydrates: 5 grams; Sugar: 3 grams; Protein: 5 grams

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Grain-free Granola

April 5th, 2018 | no comments

I love granola, but unfortunately there aren’t many brands out there that I would actually buy. Most are way too high in sugar!

This week’s recipe pick is one that I adapted slightly from Tastes of Lizzy T. It’s full of prebiotic-rich nuts to help fertilize the good bacteria in your gut: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), almonds, and pecans!

The only sugar is from naturally sweetened dates. If you prefer a hint of sweet, you could always add a touch of raw honey or pure maple syrup prior to baking.

This recipe is free of dairy, gluten, and of course…grains!

Print Recipe
Grain-free Granola
A delicious recipe without all of the added sugar of traditional granola! Full of prebiotic-rich nuts and seeds to grow the friendly bacteria in your gut. I enjoy this granola as a snack or sprinkled over apple slices that have been dipped in fresh ground almond butter. Free of grains, dairy, and gluten! 1 Earthfood per serving: ♥
Course Breakfast, Snack
Servings
servings (serving size: 1/4 cup)
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw unsalted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 cup raw unsalted sunflower seeds, shelled
  • 1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup unsalted almonds, sliced
  • 2 cups unsalted pecans, chopped
  • 10 dates chopped
  • 1/3 cup unrefined coconut oil
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Dash or two Sea salt
Course Breakfast, Snack
Servings
servings (serving size: 1/4 cup)
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw unsalted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 cup raw unsalted sunflower seeds, shelled
  • 1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup unsalted almonds, sliced
  • 2 cups unsalted pecans, chopped
  • 10 dates chopped
  • 1/3 cup unrefined coconut oil
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Dash or two Sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Melt coconut oil and add to a small bowl, along with cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Mix well and pour over the dry mixture. Stir to combine and evenly coat.
  3. Spread the granola on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Stir, then bake an additional 5 minutes. Allow to cool completely before storing in container. Enjoy as a snack or mixed into plain Greek yogurt!
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving (1/4 cup): Calories: 210; Total Fat: 19 grams; Saturated Fat: 6 grams; Sodium: 30 mg; Potassium: 143 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 8 grams; Dietary Fiber: 3 grams; Net Carbohydrates: 5 grams; Sugar: 3 grams; Protein: 5 grams

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Read this if you are tempted to “eat” your feelings

March 29th, 2018 | no comments

Plus:

 

I’m not going to lie. Lately, my hand has been in a bag of tortilla chips more than I care to admit.

It’s been an extremely challenging month here in the Jatsek household. Pet owners reading this post, you will totally relate to my story…especially if you are the type who would go to the ends of the earth for your four-legged companion.

On February 28th, I had a 2:30 pm appointment with our veterinarian to put our 14-year-old cat Miles to sleep. Just writing that last sentence sent a sinking feeling straight to my gut. 

You see, Miles was slowly declining and completely stopped eating. After a thorough examination, x-ray, and extensive blood work, it was discovered that he was suffering from kidney disease and elevated liver enzymes.

The next step was to take him to a specialist for a diagnostic ultrasound. But before we could do that, we needed to help him get strong so he would have a shot at recovery. An appetite stimulant was prescribed, but much to our disappointment, our furry little friend still refused to eat. 

Miles was suffering. I was suffering. My husband Wayne was really suffering, as Miles has always been “his boy”.

So on February 28th, we made the dreadful decision to end his life. Again…my heart just sinks at the thought.

But…

On the way to the vet, Miles perked up and started to meow.

“Don’t do this to me buddy”, I pleaded.

I turned the radio up to drown out his voice, but then I looked in the rearview mirror and through the pet carrier bars, his little eyes met mine. I couldn’t go through with it. Something in my gut told me he wasn’t ready to go.

With the veterinarian’s guidance and reassurance, and our determination to help him get well (if that was in fact his fate), I returned home with Miles, a high-calorie therapeutic cat food and a bag full of feeding syringes. The goal was to syringe-feed him one can per day and then after a week, take him to the specialist to get to the root of the problem. 

Mission accomplished! Miles got strong enough to visit the specialist for an ultrasound. Diagnosis: pancreatitis.

The only way to normalize his liver enzymes would be to execute an even more aggressive feeding regimen of two cans per day. So Wayne and I set out to feed Miles every two hours. Twenty-two syringes in 24 hours! 

As of today, we continue to feed Miles every two hours. He has an appointment next Tuesday for more blood work. We don’t really know what to expect, but all we can say for certain is that we did everything possible to nurse our big boy back to health. Now it is out of our hands. 

I share this store because it is reality. I don’t see it as good or bad– it simply is. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t fed my emotions during this experience. Quite the opposite! Every time Miles vomits a feeding, I have an irresistible urge to fuel my anxiety with a bag of chips. 

As I go about my day, attempting to put the final touches on my book (between feedings), and I think of all the things I have to do tomorrow, like a magnet to a refrigerator, I feel a strong pull to the kitchen: Hmm…I’m in the mood for a spoonful of peanut butter dipped in chocolate chips!

I’ll bet you’re wondering if I actually eat the chips! Do I really dig into the peanut butter? Sometimes…but only when I am not fully present and experiencing my feelings. 

Like a small child seeking comfort from mom after falling down and skinning her knee, we all seek comfort when faced with an undesirable experience, such as problems with a coworker, a health crisis, financial difficulties, marital problems, or even something as small as housework that we aren’t looking forward to.

Our emotions get hungry and want to be soothed. But all too often, we reach for what appears to be the easiest solution– the path of least resistance– a cupcake, bag of chips or bottle of wine.

Food is a bandaid in these situations, not a remedy. 

The only fuel that will ever really satisfy your emotions is presence. 

Am I suggesting you sit with the feelings that hurt like hell and actually…feel them? Yes. It’s the only way out.

These past twenty-eight days, I’ve been practicing exactly that. Here’s the little ritual I take myself through when I feel a wave of uncomfortable emotions. I encourage you to give it a try the very next time you are ready to eat your feelings.

How NOT to eat your feelings:

  1. STOP!
    When I get that pit inside of my stomach and I’m tempted to fill it with tortilla chips, I stop myself in my tracks. I literally visualize a STOP sign in front of the pantry.
  2. Let go.
    Whatever situation I am clinging to and trying to control, I picture myself grasping it so tightly, that it physically hurts to hold on to it. Then I open my arms and let it go.
  3. Breathe.
    I take a long slow deep breath in…and let it out.
  4. Feel.
    Whatever the emotion, I allow myself to be present for it and really feel it. Yes, it hurts. It’s uncomfortable, but shining the light of presence upon it allows it to fade. With a little light, those tidal waves of emotions become tiny ripples. Cover them with food and you will stay in the dark.
  5. Breathe again.
    Once your stormy sea of feelings settle into comfortable slow waves, take another deep breath in and let it out.

When you meet your feelings with presence rather than food, it is amazing what your eyes will be able to see. Just this morning, after syringe feeding number four, I looked out my office window and was greeted by this beautiful creature staring directly into my eyes, as if to say: Be here…now.

 

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Psyllium Husk Powder

Psyllium is a form of fiber that comes from the seeds of the Plantago ovata plant– a shrub-like plant commonly found in India. 

If you’ve ever picked up a container of Metamucil and inspected the list of ingredients, you will notice the first ingredient is psyllium husk, followed by (depending on the variety) sugar, aspartame, and artificial colors. Let’s be honest, the only reason you would purchase Metamucil is for the extra fiber…to help you poop! 🙂

If it’s extra fiber you’re looking for, why not ditch the additional ingredients and go directly to the source by purchasing straight psyllium husk powder? I use NOW brand Organic Psyllium Husk Powder. 

Psyllium husk earns extra points because over 80% of its fiber is soluble. This is kind of a big deal because soluble fiber can help you:

  • Reduce your cholesterol levels.
  • Protect your heart.
  • Control your blood sugar.
  • Avoid constipation.

Add one teaspoon of psyllium husk powder to smoothies, yogurt, or plain water– but don’t let it sit too long, otherwise it will thicken to a pudding-consistency. You can also add it to baked goods like breads, muffins, and cookies or cooked oatmeal and pancake mix! See my recipe below for Fiber-Rich Coconut Flour Pancakes 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Fiber-Rich Coconut Flour Pancakes with Peanut Butter & Raw Honey Syrup

Every once in awhile I have a taste for pancakes. Because they are 100% pure refined carbohydrate, traditional pancakes tend to leave me feeling stuffed, yet unfulfilled. I’m not sure about you…but when I eat, I want it to count!

I went on the hunt for a pancake recipe that not only offered nutrition, but one that had some muscle too. The recipe below is a compilation of several with the addition of two secret ingredients (psyllium husk powder and ground flax seed…shhh!) to bump up the fiber content, which works to stabilize blood sugar.

Oh, I almost forgot…the Peanut Butter & Raw Honey Syrup! Seriously, what are pancakes without syrup?

I used to have a total crush on maple syrup. But just like traditional pancakes, syrup is pure carbohydrate- so all it does is drive up the blood sugar even higher than before.

I created a much healthier syrup solution. Simply whisk together slightly warmed fresh ground peanut butter (you could also use almond, cashew or sunflower butter), warmed unsweetened coconut milk, and just a touch of raw honey (or maple syrup). Trust me, your pancakes won’t miss being drowned in maple syrup.

I have a feeling you’ll  this recipe. 

Print Recipe
Fiber-Rich Pumpkin Coconut Flour Pancakes with Peanut Butter & Raw Honey Syrup
Free from gluten, dairy, and grains, but full of nutrition and fiber, these pancakes will leave you feeling satisfied and nourished! 9 grams of fiber and 11 grams of protein per serving...not bad! You can store them in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze up to a month! 2 Earthfoods per serving: ♥♥
Course Breakfast
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
servings (serving size: 2 pancakes + 2 tbsp. syrup)
Ingredients
Pancakes:
  • unrefined coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3 organic free-range eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp. pure maple syrup or raw honey
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp. coconut flour I like Nutiva brand coconut flour
  • 2 tbsp. ground flaxseed
  • 1 tbsp. psyllium husk powder I use NOW brand psyllium husk powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Sea salt
Peanut Butter & Raw Honey Syrup:
  • 1/4 cup fresh ground peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk or more/less to reach desired consistency
  • 1 tbsp. raw honey you can use pure maple syrup if desired
Course Breakfast
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
servings (serving size: 2 pancakes + 2 tbsp. syrup)
Ingredients
Pancakes:
  • unrefined coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3 organic free-range eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp. pure maple syrup or raw honey
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp. coconut flour I like Nutiva brand coconut flour
  • 2 tbsp. ground flaxseed
  • 1 tbsp. psyllium husk powder I use NOW brand psyllium husk powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Sea salt
Peanut Butter & Raw Honey Syrup:
  • 1/4 cup fresh ground peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk or more/less to reach desired consistency
  • 1 tbsp. raw honey you can use pure maple syrup if desired
Instructions
  1. Heat large frying pan over medium heat and grease with a teaspoon or two of coconut oil.
  2. In a large bowl, mix pumpkin, coconut milk, eggs, maple syrup or honey, and vanilla until combined.
  3. In a smaller bowl, combine baking soda, cinnamon, coconut flour, flax seed, psyllium husk powder and salt. Make sure no lumps are remaining.
  4. Fold the flour mixture into the wet mixture, taking care not to overmix.
  5. Place ¼ cup of the batter on the preheated pan. Gently pat the top of the pancake with the bottom of the measuring cup to flatten just a bit. Cook 5 minutes or until pancakes begin to bubble in the center. Flip and cook 3 minutes on the other side until lightly browned.
Peanut Butter & Raw Honey Syrup:
  1. Add peanut butter and coconut milk to a microwave-safe bowl or liquid measuring cup. Microwave for 30 seconds or until warm. Stir together until combined. Stir in honey.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving (2 pancakes + 2 tbsp. syrup): Calories: 280; Total Fat: 17 grams; Saturated Fat: 6 grams; Sodium: 302 mg; Potassium: 180 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 23 grams; Dietary Fiber: 9 grams; Net Carbohydrates: 14 grams; Sugar: 9 grams; Protein: 11 grams

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Fiber-Rich Pumpkin Coconut Flour Pancakes with Peanut Butter & Raw Honey Syrup

March 28th, 2018 | no comments

Every once in awhile I have a taste for pancakes. Because they are 100% pure refined carbohydrate, traditional pancakes tend to leave me feeling stuffed, yet unfulfilled. I’m not sure about you…but when I eat, I want it to count!

I went on the hunt for a pancake recipe that not only offered nutrition, but one that had some muscle too. The recipe below is a compilation of several with the addition of two secret ingredients (psyllium husk powder and ground flax seed…shhh!) to bump up the fiber content, which works to stabilize blood sugar.

Oh, I almost forgot…the Peanut Butter & Raw Honey Syrup! Seriously, what are pancakes without syrup?

I used to have a total crush on maple syrup. But just like traditional pancakes, syrup is pure carbohydrate- so all it does is drive up the blood sugar even higher than before.

I created a much healthier syrup solution. Simply whisk together slightly warmed fresh ground peanut butter (you could also use almond, cashew or sunflower butter), warmed unsweetened coconut milk, and just a touch of raw honey (or maple syrup). Trust me, your pancakes won’t miss being drowned in maple syrup.

I have a feeling you’ll  this recipe. 

Print Recipe
Fiber-Rich Pumpkin Coconut Flour Pancakes with Peanut Butter & Raw Honey Syrup
Free from gluten, dairy, and grains, but full of nutrition and fiber, these pancakes will leave you feeling satisfied and nourished! 9 grams of fiber and 11 grams of protein per serving...not bad! You can store them in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze up to a month! 2 Earthfoods per serving: ♥♥
Course Breakfast
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
servings (serving size: 2 pancakes + 2 tbsp. syrup)
Ingredients
Pancakes:
  • unrefined coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3 organic free-range eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp. pure maple syrup or raw honey
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp. coconut flour I like Nutiva brand coconut flour
  • 2 tbsp. ground flaxseed
  • 1 tbsp. psyllium husk powder I use NOW brand psyllium husk powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Sea salt
Peanut Butter & Raw Honey Syrup:
  • 1/4 cup fresh ground peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk or more/less to reach desired consistency
  • 1 tbsp. raw honey you can use pure maple syrup if desired
Course Breakfast
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
servings (serving size: 2 pancakes + 2 tbsp. syrup)
Ingredients
Pancakes:
  • unrefined coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3 organic free-range eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp. pure maple syrup or raw honey
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp. coconut flour I like Nutiva brand coconut flour
  • 2 tbsp. ground flaxseed
  • 1 tbsp. psyllium husk powder I use NOW brand psyllium husk powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Sea salt
Peanut Butter & Raw Honey Syrup:
  • 1/4 cup fresh ground peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk or more/less to reach desired consistency
  • 1 tbsp. raw honey you can use pure maple syrup if desired
Instructions
  1. Heat large frying pan over medium heat and grease with a teaspoon or two of coconut oil.
  2. In a large bowl, mix pumpkin, coconut milk, eggs, maple syrup or honey, and vanilla until combined.
  3. In a smaller bowl, combine baking soda, cinnamon, coconut flour, flax seed, psyllium husk powder and salt. Make sure no lumps are remaining.
  4. Fold the flour mixture into the wet mixture, taking care not to overmix.
  5. Place ¼ cup of the batter on the preheated pan. Gently pat the top of the pancake with the bottom of the measuring cup to flatten just a bit. Cook 5 minutes or until pancakes begin to bubble in the center. Flip and cook 3 minutes on the other side until lightly browned.
Peanut Butter & Raw Honey Syrup:
  1. Add peanut butter and coconut milk to a microwave-safe bowl or liquid measuring cup. Microwave for 30 seconds or until warm. Stir together until combined. Stir in honey.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving (2 pancakes + 2 tbsp. syrup): Calories: 280; Total Fat: 17 grams; Saturated Fat: 6 grams; Sodium: 302 mg; Potassium: 180 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 23 grams; Dietary Fiber: 9 grams; Net Carbohydrates: 14 grams; Sugar: 9 grams; Protein: 11 grams

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Identify your eating “Danger Zones”

March 21st, 2018 | no comments

Plus:

 

We are up to our final two Nourish Guidelines. Both may sound a bit familiar to you, as I covered them in previous posts. 

Nourish Guideline #9: Identify your “Danger Zones”

Nourish Guideline #10: Check in: Are you really hungry?

If you want to be in control of your eating habits, it is critical that you really understand how to conquer “danger zone” eating. If you are new to this concept, below is a recap of an earlier post on this topic. 

When do your Danger Zones pay you a visit?

Do you ever notice a strong impulse to eat at almost the same time every day? You’re not quite sure if it’s hunger, but when you stop to examine it a little closer, you’re pretty sure it isn’t. Why then, are those corn chips calling your name? An even more pressing question…how do you shut them up?

I like to refer to these bouts of non-hunger eating urgency as my “Danger Zones.” They come to visit me almost every day at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. 

In order to successfully overcome them, you must first identify the times of day they are most likely to strike.

Are you really hungry?

Next, let’s make sure you really aren’t hungry. What I want you to do is ask yourself out loud: “Am I hungry?”

It’s very important that you ask this question out loud—don’t skip this part or ask it in your head. There’s something transformational about hearing the question in your own voice, out loud. It commands respect and truthfulness. Whenever I’m faced with a bout of false hunger, and I ask this question out loud, I absolutely can’t lie! The answer is always a definite no. I’m not hungry!

If on the other hand, it’s 10:00 am and your answer is yes, I am hungry, think back to breakfast. First, did you even eat breakfast? If not…duh! It’s probably real hunger. If you did eat breakfast, was it a carbohydrate-heavy meal like cereal and milk, toast, a blueberry muffin, a pumpkin spice latte or a bowl of oatmeal? If so, it could possibly be hunger.

You see, because high carbohydrate foods cause your blood sugar to spike, the effect is a rush in insulin production to bring your blood sugar back down to a normal level. This often results in what I call “rebound hunger.”

Shine a light on false hunger

When it’s false hunger I’m experiencing, there’s an important game changing step that I take: I give myself permission to eat if I really want to. This is so important because as soon as you forbid yourself from eating, guess what happens? Yep! Game on—you’re going to eat.

When I grant myself permission to eat, I say something like this:

“OK Mel, you’ve determined you aren’t hungry. But if you decide you want to eat anyway, it’s OK. Before you eat however, let me ask you this…will those corn chips bring you peace of mind?”

Dammit again—the answer is always no.

So what can you do to be more proactive around your Danger Zones? First, I want you to make friends with them. That’s right—start to see your Danger Zone as a welcomed guest who is there to make you stronger. Don’t push it away; otherwise it’ll just get louder and more persistent.

Next, fill the time with a supportive habit. I find the simple act of preparing myself a hot cup of green tea always seems to work. You could also try a nice warm cup of lemon water. What you’re doing here is acknowledging your false hunger. It’s like saying: I see you and now I’m about to honor you with a nice detoxifying beverage. It’s just like inviting a guest into your home for a cup of coffee.

Next, as you sit and sip on your tea, see if you can uncover the reason behind the compulsion to eat when not hungry. For me, I’ve come to the realization that when I’m procrastinating beginning a new task or project, I tend to turn to food. Nine times out of ten, the simple act of shining a light on the cause is enough to quiet your false hunger.

Live with the end in mind

Finally, visualize yourself as someone who is in control around food and refuse to see yourself any other way. In other words, live with the end in mind by behaving as if you already are the person you wish to be.

Let’s recap the four steps to conquering your Danger Zones:

  1. Identify your Danger Zone times. (i.e. 10 am, 2 pm, 9 pm)
  2. When the clock strikes Danger Zone, ask yourself out loud: Am I hungry? If you are…eat! If not, fill the time with a supportive habit, like sipping on a cup of hot tea.
  3. Contemplate the reason behind this false hunger and shine a light on it.
  4. See yourself as someone who is in control around food and behave as if you are that person.
Mel’s weekly food pick:
Tempeh

In the mood for a meatless meal? Reach for tempeh! 

I’ll admit, it’s not the prettiest food in the world (in fact it looks downright unappetizing), but if you can look past its rough exterior, you will discover a bounty of nutritional goodness locked and loaded inside. 

Tempeh is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form. And because it is fermented, tempeh is a decent source of probiotics– or healthy bacteria.

A 3-ounce portion of tempeh offers up 16 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber, making it a pretty darn impressive meat alternative. 

My favorite way to cook tempeh is by pan-frying in a touch of coconut oil and Bragg Liquid Aminos –an amino acid-rich alternative to soy sauce, which is made from non-GMO soybeans and purified water. I love piling tempeh atop a big green leafy salad adorned with a mound of roasted vegetables. See my easy 10-Minute Pan-Fried Tempeh recipe below! 

You can also add tempeh to your stir-fry, use it as a sandwich or taco filling, or in your favorite chili recipe! 

FYI…tempeh can usually be found near the deli department of your local grocery store.

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Print Recipe
10-Minute Pan-Fried Tempeh
Course Dinner
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1 package Lightlife Organic Tempeh sliced crosswise into 12-14 even slices
  • 2 tsp. unrefined coconut oil
  • 1/2 tbsp. Bragg Liquid Aminos
Course Dinner
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1 package Lightlife Organic Tempeh sliced crosswise into 12-14 even slices
  • 2 tsp. unrefined coconut oil
  • 1/2 tbsp. Bragg Liquid Aminos
Instructions
  1. Heat coconut oil in frying pan over medium heat. Add sliced tempeh and pan-fry each side until golden brown (about 3 minutes per side).
  2. Remove from heat and sprinkle with Bragg Liquid Aminos. Turn tempeh to make sure both sides absorb the aminos.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving: Calories: 215; Total Fat: 10 grams; Saturated Fat: 5 grams; Sodium: 250 mg; Potassium: 350 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 13 grams; Dietary Fiber: 9 grams; Net Carbohydrates: 4 grams; Sugar: 0 grams; Protein: 21 grams

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