Category: "Uncategorized"

8 Inexpensive ways to eat better

July 12th, 2018 | no comments

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“Healthy eating is so expensive Melanie!”

Not so pussy cat!  Believe it or not, when you make wiser food choices, you actually eat less! Don’t believe me? Sit back and get a load of this.

The human body is in search of nutrients from food, not calories. So when you eat real food—nuts, seeds, beans, avocados, fruits, veggies, fresh meats and seafood— your body knows when to stop eating.  Feed it loads of processed food (i.e. frozen meals, chips, ice cream, pizza, etc.) and it begins the search for the nutrients that it knows will satisfy it. But when it can’t find those nutrients, it continues to eat more, still looking. This is precisely why I can eat an entire bag of chips and still want more!

Listen, if you plan appropriately and know what to buy, you can throw a quick and tasty meal together in just minutes. For example, a favorite breakfast/lunch of mine costs a mere $2.81 to put together. It consists of the following:

  • 1 small avocado: $1.00
  • 1 free range egg: $0.38
  • 2 tablespoons of store bought hummus: $0.60 (make your own hummus using THIS EASY RECIPE and you’ll save $$!)
  • 1 organic apple: $0.83

           TOTAL: $2.81

Compare this meal to your daily $3.69 Starbucks grande Caffe Latte (the one you don’t think twice about). Now tell me…is healthy eating expensive? Sure you can find a million examples of pricey organic produce and meats and throw those in my face, but I’m here to tell you that you CAN eat healthy on a budget without clipping coupons or skimping on quality. 

Here is a short list, along with meal planning ideas, for some of my favorite kitchen staples that won’t break the bank:

  1. 32-ounce bag of frozen strawberries: $1.13 per cup
    Meal idea:

    • Add a cup to your favorite smoothie recipe.
  2. Organic free-range eggs: $0.38 per egg
    Meal ideas:

    • Hard boil seven for the week, store in the refrigerator and eat one for breakfast, as a snack, or chop on top of salad.
    • Try my Egg & Hummus Stuffed Avocado recipe!
  3. Sustainably caught, low mercury tuna (Wild Planet; Safe Catch; Henry & Lisa’s): $2.00 per serving
    Meal idea:

  4. 16-ounce bag of quinoa: $0.60 per serving
    Meal ideas:

    • Season with your favorite spices and serve in place of rice at dinner.
    • Make the perfect probiotic-rich salad using this recipe!
  5. 16-ounce bag of lentils: $0.25 per serving
    Meal ideas (NOTE: Lentils require no soaking and take only 15 minutes to prepare):

    • Mix with quinoa and kimchi to prepare a Lentil, Quinoa & Kimchi Salad for lunch.
    • Add to marinara sauce, soups, casseroles, or tuna and egg salads for a fiber boost!
  6. 16-ounce bag of baby carrots: $0.50 per serving
    Meal ideas:

    • Toss into smoothies.
    • Eat as a snack with a side of OMG Hummus.
    • Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and roast in the oven using this simple recipe.
    • Chop and add to tuna and egg salad, along with diced red onion and celery!
  7. Bag of small avocados: $1.00 per avocado
    Meal ideas:

  8. Organic Apples: $0.83 per apple
    Meal ideas:

Consider this: A sick body is REALLY expensive. How much money would you dish out to fix a broken, unhealthy body?

Now, tell me again how “expensive” it is to make healthier choices?

Crickets…

Mel’s weekly product pick:
Apples

Next to berries, apples are my favorite fruit. Nothing exotic about them at all…just a plain and simple apple. 

Part of the reason I adore them so is that they fill me up more than bananas, oranges, melons, and pretty much any other fruit. The reason? They’re loaded with dietary fiber (4 grams per medium apple) in both the skin and pulp…this is why you should NEVER peel your apples before enjoying. 

Because they land on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen”—a list of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables with the highest loads of pesticide residues—it’s best to purchase organic apples when possible.

In addition to the meal ideas shared above, here are three other ways to enjoy your favorite apple:

  1. Dice half of an apple and stir into cottage cheese- this makes a wonderful quick breakfast or lunch. My favorite cottage cheese is Kalona Supernatural Organic Whole Milk Cottage Cheese.
  2. Infuse sweet flavors into your glass of water by adding a few thinly sliced Fuji apples.
  3. Sweeten up plain Greek yogurt with diced apples and a dash of cinnamon. 
Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Egg & Hummus-Stuffed Avocado (with sliced apples)

 

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Why I stopped wearing my Fitbit

July 5th, 2018 | no comments

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A couple years ago I invested in a Fitbit. Wearable devices measuring steps, miles walked, time spent being sedentary, and sleep quality, were the hottest thing to hit the fitness industry. They also became an object of desire for regular folks just looking to be more active…a very good thing indeed!

In November of 2015, I strapped my new Fitbit to my wrist and there it remained for fourteen months, only to be removed for daily showers and battery charges. 

In the early days I thought it was a complete hoot! I took instant delight in tapping the display several times each day hour to check my progress. I entered into Fitbit challenges with my Fitbit “friends” to see who could achieve the most steps in any given week. Again, it was super fun and I really enjoyed the competition. 

Then, about two months in, the obsession began.

On those days when I fell short of my 15,000 step-goal, I would immediately enter into a state of guilt. But even when I met the goal, there were days when—after a long day of work, followed by exercise and making dinner—I would sit down to rest and sync my Fitbit with my phone, only to discover…Oh no! I’m lagging behind my friends! I’d then get up and start moving around again—marching in place or finding “stuff” to do—just so I could eek out a couple hundred more steps before I called it a day. 

The obsession continued, and I even ran the risk of looking like a complete ninny…all for the sake of racking up more steps. You see, my particular Fitbit model didn’t pick up steps during certain activities, such as the StairMaster or while pushing a grocery cart. I wasn’t about to let those precious, hard-earned steps slip by, so I did what any sane insane person would do…I strapped the Fitbit to my shoe while on the StairMaster!

That’s not the ninny part.

THIS is the ninny part: As I pushed my grocery cart around the store with non-Fitbit arm, I would swing my Fitbit arm like an uncoordinated baby giraffe to pick up the steps. Yeah…I pretty much looked like a drunken madwoman and quite sure I caught a few eyes with that one!

In January of 2017, when most people are just getting ready to commit to a more active lifestyle, I decided I had just about enough of this glorified homing device, and off it came. Never to cuff my wrist again! Now I know what a caged tiger feels like when it tastes its first bite of freedom.

I can sum up my 14-month Fitbit escapade in one word: unnatural. 

Wearable Devices: Two things they do well
  1. Give a gentle reminder when you’re too sedentary.
    The one positive of wearable devices is the built-in feature that sends a vibrating alert when you’ve been sitting too long. You may have heard the phrase: sitting is the new smoking. While I don’t believe for a minute it is as dangerous as smoking, sitting for excessively long periods of time is a risk factor for early death! This conclusion came as a result of a September 2017 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
  2. Shed a bright spotlight on how inactive you really are.
    If you should be getting roughly 10,000 steps per day and your wearable device highlights the painful reality that on average you get only 3,000, this is a glaring wake-up call! In other words, even though you walk the dog around the block after work, you are far from active! In this case, wearing a Fitbit or other device for a few weeks can give you an idea what your body should feel like when it’s active: energized, refreshed, and sore in a good way, versus sluggish, achy, and stiff! Once you recognize the difference, there’s no need to continue wearing your Fitbit. 
How can you have the best of both worlds?
  1. Train your body to CRAVE movement.
    If you have a sedentary job or spend most of your day sitting, you will have to train your body to get up and move every 30-50 minutes. Set the alarm on your phone to go off at regular intervals throughout the day as a reminder. That’s what I do (see the screenshot of my phone?)! Soon it will become habit and your body will send you warning signs of neck and back pain when you “over-sit”. 
  2. Appreciate the deliciousness of joyful movement.
    Instead of looking at daily exercise as a chore or something you must check off of your never-ending to-do list, appreciate it for what it really is: a gift blessed upon you for the sole purpose of taking care of your temporary temple.

What a privilege it is to be given the gift of a body…don’t you think? 

 

Mel’s weekly product pick:
Quinoa

Although thought of as a grain, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is actually a seed. It comes from Peru, Bolivia and Chile and is closely related to beets, chard and spinach. 

Because of its absence of gluten (the protein found in wheat, rye and barley), quinoa is especially attractive to those following a gluten-free diet.

Another interesting fact about quinoa is that it contains all of the essential amino acids needed by the body, making it a ‘complete’ protein. It’s pretty rare for a plant-based food to house all amino acids, which is why quinoa is often a staple in vegan diets. 

Quinoa can be used as a substitute for rice or oatmeal, and can also be made into flour, flakes and various foods like pasta, bread, muffins, and pizza crust. Be sure to check out my recipe below for Garlicky Quinoa Pizza Crust! 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Garlicky Quinoa Pizza Crust

Seriously, I love pizza- the spicy sauce and ooey gooey cheese, topped with red onions, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil. But for the past couple of years I’ve gradually scooted gluten—the protein found in wheat, rye and barley—out of my diet, which means no pizza! 

I’ve attempted sweet potato-crust pizza, kale-crust pizza, and my favorite: cauliflower-crust pizza. Although delicious, cauliflower-crust pizza is a LOT of work! I jokingly asked my husband if he liked it, to which he replied “Oh YES!” My reply: “Well enjoy this one because I’m NEVER making it again!” 🙂 

Then I found a recipe for quinoa-crust pizza that really had me intrigued…but I have to say, I wasn’t overly optimistic.

I made a few adjustments in the recipe and am pleased to report that this pizza crust turned out beautifully, and is really easy to make. The only time-consuming step is soaking the quinoa, but if you begin the soak in the morning right after you wake up, it will be ready to use by dinnertime! 

Please note: I used pre-rinsed quinoa in this recipe. If you use quinoa that is not pre-rinsed, you will have to rinse it through a fine mesh strainer both before and after soaking. 

PS: Most pizza sauce on the market contains added sugar. Boo! Fortunately there are a (very select) few without. Rao’s Pizza Sauce contains no added sugar, only: Italian whole peeled tomatoes, Italian cherry tomatoes, olive oil, carrots, onions, salt, dried oregano, garlic, and basil.

Print Recipe
Garlicky Quinoa Pizza Crust
A better-for-you pizza crust made with just five simple ingredients. Serve it alongside a fresh arugula salad sprinkled with chopped veggies and toasted pumpkin seeds and dressed with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. My favorite pizza toppings include: Pizza sauce (with no added sugar) or pesto sauce, shredded asiago and Parmesan cheese, kalamata olives, red onions, fresh garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and fresh basil. This recipe makes two small pizza crusts and yields six servings per pizza. 0 Earthfoods per serving.
Servings
servings per pizza
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups pre-rinsed quinoa I like Ancient Harvest brand
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp. Sea salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Servings
servings per pizza
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups pre-rinsed quinoa I like Ancient Harvest brand
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp. Sea salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Place quinoa in a bowl and cover it with water (about one inch above quinoa). Let soak overnight or at least eight hours. If not using pre-rinsed quinoa, you will have to rinse it through a fine mesh strainer before soaking.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Drain quinoa very well. If not using pre-rinsed quinoa, you will have to rinse it again in this step.
  3. Place quinoa, water, salt, baking powder and garlic powder into a food processor and process for about two minutes until smooth in consistency.
  4. Line two 8- or 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper. To make it simple, place the cake pan on top of the parchment paper, draw an outline of it, cut it out, and place it into the cake pan. Pour one tablespoon of oil into each pan atop the parchment paper and then pour the batter evenly into both cake pan atop the oil, smoothing it out evenly.
  5. Bake the crusts for 15 minutes. Carefully flip the crusts over, remove the parchment paper and bake for another five minutes.
  6. Top the pizzas as desired. Bake for another 5-10 minutes until your toppings have cooked through. Cool, cut, and serve!
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving (1/6 of one pizza not including sauce or toppings)Calories: 110Total Fat: 4 g; Saturated Fat:  0.3 g; Sodium: 275 mg; Potassium: 0 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 16 g; Dietary fiber: 2 g; Net Carbohydrates: 14 grams; Sugar: 2 g (no added sugar); Protein: 3 g

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Maybe you’re not ready

June 28th, 2018 | no comments

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  • Mel’s weekly product pick:
    Tahini
  • Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
    OMG! Hummus

A few weeks ago, I ran into a friend while grocery shopping. Well, actually he is a past client who turned into a friend— a special kind of person who just radiates positive energy…the kind you can literally feel!

I can’t help but smile when I think of how far Josh has come in his quest for a healthy body. My heart smiles as I reminisce about that cool fall morning when he marched into my office with the following proclamation:

“My doctor just diagnosed me with diabetes and I am not going down like that! Tell me what I have to do to turn this thing around, and I’ll do it!”

I was a bit taken aback by his insistence, yet part of me—if I’m being honest—thought: Yeah, yeah, yeah- I’ve heard this song and dance before. Let’s see how long you stick to your guns.

We engaged in an hour-long coaching session, set some goals, and off he went to “reverse his diabetes”. 

I kept in touch with Josh periodically over the next few months, and then one day out of the blue, he knocked on my office door and entered with a larger-than-life smile.

Well coach, you’ll never believe it! Three months ago my hemoglobin A1C (a blood test used to diagnose diabetes) was in the 9s and today, it’s a 6.1! 

I leapt up from my chair and hugged him tighter than I’ve ever hugged anyone before. He did it! And guess what? This was back in early 2017…today Josh has managed to lower his A1C to that of a non-diabetic. 

There was something in his eyes that I’ve seen very few times before—a radiance of sorts. As if it came from a place far beyond this earthly plane. The only fitting word that can come close to describing it is…grace. And I knew he would never turn back to his old ways.

I am fascinated by this man’s perseverance. He said he was going to do it, and he did. When I asked Josh what drove him to this level of self-improvement despite all the temptations and excuses that are so easy to lean on when times get tough (i.e. “I don’t have the time”, “I’m too tired to exercise”, “I hate the taste of food that is good for me!”, etc.), he said:

“I was ready.”

Then he proceeded to say the most brilliant and succinct words I’ve ever heard come out of any human being:

“You know Melanie…sometimes the clown has to finish his act.”  

I paused for a second to really let his words sink in, then belted out a loud roar of laughter at the absolute benign simplicity of his statement: Sometimes the clown has to finish his act. In other words, sometimes you aren’t ready…and that’s OK. 

Even though your habits many not be serving your health, you’ll make a change when you are ready. And when you know, you know. When you reach this state of readiness, watch out! It will literally feel like you’re being shot out of a motivation cannon.

My only hope is that you don’t wait until it’s too late, because not all conditions are reversible. But again, your readiness is not up to me. 

Before he left my office, Josh said something that I’ll never forget:

“Everyone has a vote. You just have to ask yourself: ‘Am I worth it?'”

So let me ask you: Have you finished your act? Are you ready to cast your vote?

 

Mel’s weekly product pick:
Tahini

You’ve heard of almond butter and peanut butter, right? I think it’s time you met sesame seed butter…also known as tahini. 

Tahini is simply a paste made of ground sesame seeds. It’s found in many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes and can be used to make hummus, served by itself as a dip, as a healthy fat for smoothies, spread on sandwiches or wraps, as a salad dressing, or combined with dates and cashews in a food processor to make a nutritious energy ball snack (check out this simple recipe). 

I like Artisana Organics Raw Tahini because it has only one ingredient…you guessed it, sesame seeds! Whichever brand you choose, make sure it’s made with sesame seeds and nothing else. Also, you’ll have to give it a really good stir before using because—just like natural peanut butter and almond butter— the oil tends to settle at the top. 

Use tahini to make this week’s recipe pick: OMG! Hummus. If you love hummus, you will totally adore this recipe!

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
OMG! Hummus

This simple and clean hummus recipe leaves me wondering if I’ll ever use the store-bought kind again! Made with canned chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, tahini (sesame seed butter), extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and cumin, OMG! Hummus is creamy and dreamy with just the right amount of zing.  

Use it as a:

  • Dip for raw veggies
  • Topping for your pizza
  • Filling for avocados or deviled eggs
  • Substitute for mayonnaise and sour cream

Or… try it as a “dressing” for your salad. Lately I’ve been topping my green salads with a couple tablespoons of hummus and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Bottled salad dressings no longer please my palate since I’ve come up with this newfound excuse to eat more hummus.

Feel free to add other toppings to your OMG! Hummus, such as a sprinkle of smoked paprika, diced kalamata olives, or sun-dried tomatoes!

The original recipe comes from www.cookieandkate.com. Check out Kate’s website, she’s got oodles of delicious and nutritious recipes!

Print Recipe
OMG! Hummus
This simple and clean hummus recipe leaves me wondering if I'll ever use the store-bought kind again! Made with canned chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, tahini (sesame seed butter), extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and cumin, OMG! Hummus is creamy and dreamy with just the right amount of zing.  1 Earthfood per serving: ♥
Course Dressing
Prep Time 15-20 minutes
Servings
servings (serving size: 1/4 cup)
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice or you can use Lakewood Organic Pure Lemon Juice
  • 1 large clove fresh garlic, minced or you can use 1/2-1 tsp. of jarred minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1/2 cup tahini try Artisana Organic Raw Tahini
  • 2-4 tbsp. ice water, or more as needed I used around 6 tablespoons to make it extra creamy!
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Course Dressing
Prep Time 15-20 minutes
Servings
servings (serving size: 1/4 cup)
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice or you can use Lakewood Organic Pure Lemon Juice
  • 1 large clove fresh garlic, minced or you can use 1/2-1 tsp. of jarred minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1/2 cup tahini try Artisana Organic Raw Tahini
  • 2-4 tbsp. ice water, or more as needed I used around 6 tablespoons to make it extra creamy!
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Combine lemon juice, garlic and salt in a food processor until garlic is finely chopped. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  2. Add tahini and blend until thick and creamy, stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of food processor as needed. While running the processor, drizzle in 2-4 tablespoons of ice water and blend until really smooth, pale and creamy. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons more ice water if needed.
  3. Add the cumin, chickpeas, and baking soda to the food processor. While blending, drizzle in the olive oil. Blend until super smooth, again, scraping down the sides of the processor as necessary, about 2 minutes. Add more ice water by the tablespoon if necessary to achieve a super creamy texture.
  4. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Add toppings of your choice, such as a sprinkle of smoked paprika, diced kalamata olives, or sun-dried tomatoes!
  5. Refrigerate any leftovers in a covered container for up to a week.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving (1/4 cup)Calories: 150Total Fat: 11 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Sodium: 450 mg; Potassium: 187 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 13 g; Dietary fiber: 4 g; Net Carbohydrates: 9 grams; Sugar: 0 g; Protein: 5 g

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How to rekindle your love affair with sleep

June 21st, 2018 | no comments

Plus:

  • Mel’s weekly product picks:
    6 Natural sleep aids
  • Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
    Sleep Tight Tonic

Most everyone knows they should be getting more sleep—that’s a no-brainer. But knowing doesn’t necessarily translate into doing.

Getting adequate sleep is the most important thing you can do for your health—even more important than proper nutrition and exercise.

When it comes to being sleep deprived, you don’t know what you don’t know. What I mean by that is, just because you feel perfectly fine on four, five or six hours of sleep, doesn’t mean it’s OK. In fact, I guarantee that if you committed to getting at least seven hours of sleep each night for one week, you would never again settle for less. Why? Because you’d feel like a rock star! Everything in your life gets better when your body is properly rested.

For the record, due to a genetic mutation, only one percent (that’s 1%) of the population can get by on less than seven hours of sleep. Hint…it’s probably not you!

Chances are, if you aren’t getting a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night, one of three reasons is to blame:

  1. You haven’t made sleep a priority.
  2. You find it difficult to fall asleep.
  3. You fall asleep with ease, but have trouble staying asleep.

Whatever the reason you’re cheating on your relationship with sleep, here are six tips to help you rekindle your love affair with a peaceful night’s rest.

Tip #1: Turn down the lights

This may seem like an obvious one, but did you know that light suppresses the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep and wake cycles? Before climbing into bed, take steps to turn down the lights and make your bedroom a calm, quiet and dark space. This includes not exposing yourself to bright lights from the TV, e-readers and your cell phone at least thirty minutes prior to getting into bed.

Tip #2: Turn down the heat

A cool bedroom is key to getting a good night’s sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 65 degrees and says that sleep is actually disrupted when temperatures rise above 75 degrees or fall below 54 degrees.

Tip #3: Prioritize sleep like you prioritize hygiene

You wouldn’t think of leaving the house without brushing your teeth, would you? It’s time to recommit to sleep by rearranging your schedule to get just thirty minutes more shut-eye each night. Then gradually bump it up in 30-minute intervals until you reach 7-8 hours. This may mean you turn off the TV a little sooner or save the laundry until tomorrow. Treat sleep as if your life depends on it…because it does!

Tip #4: Be cautious of caffeine

A caffeine jolt in the late afternoon or early evening can seriously disrupt your sleep. Vow to avoid caffeinated beverages and foods after 3 pm. These include chocolate, coffee (including decaf), non-herbal teas (green, black, and white teas), energy drinks and waters, soda and mocha, coffee or chocolate-flavored ice creams. If you are especially sensitive to caffeine, you may want to consider an earlier quit time.

Tip #5: Wind down your mind

To help calm your mind, try meditating, listening to soothing music, or reading a non-work related book, like poetry, a biography, a novel or spiritual text. Here’s what I’m currently reading! You’ll be more likely to settle into a restful sleep if you do these activities at least 30 minutes before bed. Note: Blue light from computers and e-readers suppresses melatonin, which is especially bad for sleep. Choose only physical books to read before bed.

Tip #6: Consider natural sleep aids

Instead of reaching for sleeping pills—which can leave you feeling groggy and out-of-sorts the next day—try a natural sleep aid. I don’t let an evening go by without taking my magnesium supplement. Another favorite bedtime ritual of mine is sipping on a cup of Nighty Night tea. Any one of the natural sleep aids featured in this week’s product picks can help you in your quest for more rest. Also, check out this week’s recipe pick for a natural and effective sleep tonic made with three simple ingredients. 

Mel’s weekly product picks:
6 Natural sleep aids

  1. Magnesium: Known as the “relaxation” mineral.
  2. Holy Basil: An herbal supplement that creates a sense of calm by lowering anxiety. 
  3. Valerian Root: A popular herbal solution to improve sleep quality and relieve insomnia. 
  4. L-Theanine:  A relaxing amino acid found in matcha tea and available as a supplement. Clinical studies have shown L-Theanine to induce a sense of calm in patients with anxiety. At typical dosages (i.e. 100-200 mg), L-Theanine does not act as a sedative, but it does significantly improve sleep quality.
  5. Sleep-Promoting Herbal Teas: Traditional Medicinals Nighty Night Tea; Traditional Medicinals Chamomile with Lavender Tea; Traditional Medicinals Cup of Calm Tea; Yogi Bedtime Tea; Yogi Calming Tea
  6. Lavender: Smelling this calming herb can help you relax by slowing your heart rate, decreasing blood pressure and lowering skin temperature. Put a few drops in a diffuser and get ready to drift off into a blissful, deep sleep
Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Sleep Tight Tonic

There’s something about the combination of apple cider vinegar and honey that creates a sedative effect in the body. Here’s how it works:

Apple cider vinegar (I like Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar)  releases tryptophan in the body, which is an essential amino acid that can be converted into serotonin. Serotonin— known as the “happy chemical”— is an important neurotransmitter that regulates mood and sleep. 

Honey releases serotonin, which the body converts into melatonin, a chemical compound that regulates the length and quality of sleep. Use raw honey when possible, as it contains more vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and phytonutrients than processed honey. 

The combination of the two, mixed in a hot cup of water, makes for a perfect relaxing evening tonic. Drink it as part of your nightly bedtime ritual and soon you will be sound asleep.

Print Recipe
Sleep Tight Tonic
The combination of raw honey and raw apple cider vinegar mixed in a hot cup of water, makes for a perfect relaxing evening tonic. Drink it as part of your nightly bedtime ritual and soon you will be sound asleep.
Course Tonics
Prep Time 3 minutes
Servings
serving
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp. Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tsp. raw honey
  • 6-8 ounces hot water
Course Tonics
Prep Time 3 minutes
Servings
serving
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp. Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tsp. raw honey
  • 6-8 ounces hot water
Instructions
  1. Stir vinegar and honey into hot water and sip until sleepy!
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Potatoes are actually good for blood sugar?

June 14th, 2018 | no comments

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Are potatoes actually good for your blood sugar?

Well, sort of. It depends on whether the cooked potato is eaten hot or cold. 

When a potato is cooked and then cooled, it forms a type of dietary starch called resistant starch– which means it passes through the stomach and small intestine undigested (i.e. it resists digestion) and therefore does not raise blood sugar or insulin levels after consumption. On the contrary, several studies (1, 2, 3) have shown that resistant starch may actually improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar after meals.

Guess what this means? Potato salad is back on the menu baby! (Check out my recipe below for Better-for-YOU Potato Salad)

Another noteworthy fact about resistant starch–it’s considered to be a very powerful prebiotic food! Prebiotics serve as “fertilizer” for the beneficial bacteria in your gut. I know you’ve heard me say it before, but it’s worth repeating: The collection of more than 100 trillion microorganisms living within your intestines, mouth and nose, called your microbiome, influences practically everything about you, including your:

  • Blood sugar level
  • Mood
  • Immune system
  • Sleep
  • Digestion
  • Body weight
  • Food cravings

So if you want to enjoy good health, glowing lab results, and consistently balanced blood sugar, it’s critical that you keep the good bugs alive and growing in your body. Check out this post on how to do just that!

Other forms of resistant starch you may want to add to your meal plan include: Bob’s Red Mill Unmodified Potato Starch (see this week’s product pick!), green (unripe) bananas, plantains, cooked and cooled parboiled rice and soaked and cooked/cooled legumes.

PS: Because there is always one (or 50) individuals who think “WooHoo! I can eat a bucket of potato salad at the next family picnic because Melanie said it’s good for me and won’t raise my blood sugar!” (I love you so much!) You still have to be mindful of your portion friend. A half-cup of potato salad… not a problem. A quart? Well, I think you intuitively know that’s not right. Right? 😉 

Mel’s weekly product pick:
Bob’s Red Mill Unmodified Potato Starch

Bob’s Red Mill Unmodified Potato Starch (NOT potato flour) is a form of resistant starch that ultimately becomes food for the good bacteria in your gut. It has a very mild potato flavor and can be added to cold or room temperature water, unsweetened nut milk, or blended into smoothies. To maintain the benefit of resistant starch in Bob’s Red Mill Unmodified Potato Starch, do not heat it above 130 degrees. 

It may be tempting to eat this stuff by the tablespoon…but hold onto your panties, because too much unmodified potato starch too fast can cause excess gas and bloating. To be on the safe side, begin with 1/4 of a teaspoon once a day and increase as tolerated up to one tablespoon per day. You may experience a little bit of gas and bloating at first, but you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable. 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Better-for-YOU Potato Salad

When I have a taste for one of my traditional favorites (i.e. potato salad) I like to go on the hunt for a nutritionally-upgraded recipe. At the end of the day, I want something that tastes good AND is good for me. After all, my body is my residence…and who wants to live in a messy house?

Traditional potato salad is made with soybean, canola, corn, or safflower oil- based mayonnaise. These oils are highly processed and create an inflammatory state in the body. Even those boasting of claims such as “made with avocado oil/olive oil” are still merely blends of those oils along with soybean and/or canola oils. They also contain hidden sugar and preservatives! Check out the nutrition label of Hellmann’s Avocado Oil Mayonnaise and Hellmann’s Mayonnaise with Olive OIl. Pretty sad if you ask me. The same goes for the Kraft brand of “mayo”. 

My favorite healthy oils are: extra virgin olive oil, unrefined coconut oil, and avocado oil.

I found this recipe for potato salad using homemade mayonnaise made with avocado oil (you could also use extra virgin olive oil) and adjusted it just a bit. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make this mayo…it literally took me less than five minutes!

This recipe suggests using a stick blender (also known as an immersion blender) and blending the ingredients in a mason jar. I totally concur, as I attempted the first round using my regular blender and it didn’t emulsify. Immersion blenders are relatively inexpensive– I paid $35 for my Cuisinart Smart Stick Blender at Bed Bath & Beyond. 

Print Recipe
Better-for-YOU Potato Salad
A simple red skin potato salad (with skin intact) made with homemade avocado oil-based mayonnaise. You can fancy this recipe up a bit by adding chopped hard boiled egg, carrots, and red peppers, along with a scoop or two of cooked lentils or black beans. 1 Earthfood per serving: ♥
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound red skin potatoes
  • 1/3 cup homemade avocado oil mayo You could also use Chosen Foods Avocado Oil Mayo
  • 1 tsp. yellow mustard
  • 1 tbsp. Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh chives, finely chopped
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound red skin potatoes
  • 1/3 cup homemade avocado oil mayo You could also use Chosen Foods Avocado Oil Mayo
  • 1 tsp. yellow mustard
  • 1 tbsp. Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh chives, finely chopped
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Place the potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil, remove the lid, season liberally with salt and let the potatoes cook for about 15-20 minutes or until fork tender. Drain the potatoes and let them cool completely.
  2. While the potatoes are boiling, prepare mayonnaise (see NOTES section below for recipe). Whisk together the prepared mayo, yellow mustard, apple cider vinegar, celery, onion, dill, and chives.
  3. Once the potatoes are cooled completely cut them into cubes and add them to the dressing. Gently toss to coat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes

Click HERE for homemade mayonnaise recipe!

Nutrition Facts: Calories: 220Total Fat: 14 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Sodium: 140 mg; Potassium: 580 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 22 g; Dietary fiber: 4 g; Net Carbohydrates: 18 grams; Sugar: 2 g (no added sugar); Protein: 2 g

 

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Supplements to support healthy blood sugar

June 7th, 2018 | no comments

Plus:

NOTE: Please check with your healthcare provider before beginning any supplement regimen.

First, let me say that you can NEVER supplement your way out of a crappy diet. Never. So don’t even waste your money.

Food is medicine and a healthy diet is essential for managing your blood sugar– there’s no way around it! So if you’re not quite there in the food department, focus on that first and then use supplements to help fill the gaps. 

Unfortunately, even if you follow a perfectly balanced diet, you may still be at risk for nutrient depletion due to depleted soils, industrial farming, environmental toxins, stress, and our modern lifestyle. This is where supplementation can be beneficial.

There are four simple supplements that can help regulate your blood sugar and improve the way your body handles carbohydrate foods like fruits and grains. They are:

  1. WHOLE FOOD-BASED MULTIVITAMIN: with adequate B-complex vitamins, antioxidants, and 1000 IU of vitamin D3.
  2. PROBIOTIC: with at least ten different probiotic strains and 10-15 billion colony forming units (CFU).
  3. OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS: 1000-2000 mg/daily with 250 to 500 milligrams of EPA and DHA.
  4. MAGNESIUM: 300-400 mg/daily

Whole Food-Based Multivitamin 
(+ B-complex vitamins, antioxidants, and 1000 IU vitamin D3)

A high quality whole food-based multivitamin offers the benefit of the whole food and all of the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes that occur naturally in the food or plant. 

B-complex vitamins support healthy sleep, energy levels, metabolism, stress response, and help protect against nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy). They are water-soluble, which means they dissolve in water and therefore your body cannot store them.

Antioxidant vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium, may help reduce oxidative stress, which plays a pivotal role in the development of diabetes complications.

Vitamin D3 treatment has been shown to improved glycemic control and insulin sensitivity in people with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and normal individuals. Conversely, low vitamin D levels in general have been associated with insulin resistance and obesity.

Adequate blood levels of vitamin D (known as the “sunshine vitamin”) can be achieved in just 15 minutes of full-body (minus sunscreen) sun exposure daily between the hours of 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. Of course this isn’t difficult to achieve in the summer months, however, in most areas of the country it’s impossible to meet this recommendation nearly six months out of the year. This is where extra vitamin D3 supplementation can be beneficial.

Your vitamin D level can be obtained through a simple blood test called 25-hyroxyvitamin D or 25(OH)D for short. In his book The Blood Sugar Solution, Dr. Mark Hyman considers a range of 45-60 ng/dl to be optimal. If you are deficient, higher doses of vitamin D will be needed to bring you up to the desired range.

NOTE: For best absorption, take your whole food-based multivitamin with a fat-containing meal, like a smoothie made with avocado and chia seeds.

Brands:

  • Garden of Life Vitamin Code: Women; Men; 50 & Wiser Women; 50 & Wiser Men
  • New Chapter Multivitamin: Women (also 40+ and 55+); Men (also 40+ and 55+); Perfect Energy (for energy and vitality); Perfect Calm (for stress support and wellbeing)

Probiotic
(
with at least ten different probiotic strains and 10-15 CFU)

Your microbiome is a collection of more than 100 trillion organisms living within your intestines, mouth and nose. It influences practically everything about you, including your: mood, immune system, risk of developing cancer and diabetes, sleep, body weight, digestion, and food cravings!

To grow and sustain the friendly organisms, 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-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, kefir, kombucha, unsweetened yogurt, and probiotic supplements.  

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

Brands:

  • 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

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
(1000-2000 mg/daily with 250 to 500 milligrams of EPA and DHA)

Omega-3 fatty acids can improve insulin sensitivity and nerve function, lower triglycerides, raise HDL cholesterol, reduce inflammation, lower risk of heart attacks, and improve nerve function.

You can achieve a healthy dose of EPA and DHA by consuming a regular diet (2-3 times per week) of omega-3-rich fish that are low in mercury and other contaminants, including salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel, and anchovies.

Brands:

  • New Chapter: Wholemega Whole Fish Oil
  • Wiley’s Finest: Wild Alaskan Fish Oil
  • Garden of Life: Minami Algae Omega-3 (for vegan/vegetarian diets)

Magnesium
(300-400 mg/daily)

Known as the “relaxation” mineral, magnesium can help improve your sleep (which is UBER important for healthy blood sugar and weight) and also assist glucose into your cells where it belongs!

Good food sources of magnesium include: dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, peas, and lentils.

Brands:

  • Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Magnesium (powder)
  • Trace Minerals Ionic Magnesium (liquid)
  • Life Extension Magnesium
  • NOW Magnesium

Notes:

  • Magnesium in the form of magnesium citrate, can have a laxative effect in some cases when taken in high doses.
  • People with kidney disease or heart disease should consult with their doctor before taking a magnesium supplement.

If you’re looking to begin with just one of the above supplements, I would suggest a probiotic. The health of your gut is tied to almost everything, and as the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates said nearly 2500 years ago: “All disease begins in the gut.”

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
No-Bake Peanut Butter Caramel Coconut Bars

Looking for a sweet and clean treat you can feel good about eating? No, I’m not talking about strawberries and blueberries…although you can feel good about eating those too!

Meet Peanut Butter Caramel Coconut Bars!

I found this recipe while surfing Pinterest and just knew I had to give it a try. Kudos to London Brazil (by the way…how cool is that name?!) from www.evolvingtable.com, for her Healthy No Bake Magic Bars– which I renamed Peanut Butter Caramel Coconut Bars because it just makes my mouth water to say it! These bars are gluten, dairy, and grain-free and loaded with coconut goodness. The “caramel” glaze is made by combining dates, coconut oil, pure maple syrup, water, and sea salt in a food processor. 

Please note: Because these bars have added sugar (in the form of pure maple syrup) and contain natural sugar from dates, they should be treated more like a dessert, not a meal or “nutrition bar”. By the way, if you’re looking to slow the absorption of sugar in your bloodstream, it’s best to eat sweet treats like this after a meal versus an empty stomach and do so at least two to three hours before bed. 

Print Recipe
No-Bake Peanut Butter Caramel Coconut Bars
Enjoy one of these bars after dinner with a cup of hot tea and you will be in heaven. They have just enough sweet without going overboard. 1 Earthfood per serving: ♥
Course Sweet Treats
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Peanut Butter Crust:
  • 1 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup fresh ground peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp. unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
Caramel Glaze:
  • 1 tbsp. unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 3/4 cup pitted dates, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 1 pinch Sea salt
  • 3 tbsp. cacao nibs Navitas brand
  • 3 tbsp. shredded coconut, unsweetened
Course Sweet Treats
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Peanut Butter Crust:
  • 1 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup fresh ground peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp. unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
Caramel Glaze:
  • 1 tbsp. unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 3/4 cup pitted dates, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 1 pinch Sea salt
  • 3 tbsp. cacao nibs Navitas brand
  • 3 tbsp. shredded coconut, unsweetened
Instructions
For the Peanut Butter Crust:
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine all of the peanut butter crust ingredients. Process for 2-3 minutes, or until mixture begins to hold together and form a ball.
  2. Press peanut butter crust into a parchment paper-lined 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Refrigerate while preparing the caramel glaze.
For the Caramel Glaze:
  1. Place oil, dates, water, syrup and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Process for 2 minutes, stopping every 20-30 seconds to scrape the sides. You want the dates to be completely smooth and the glaze to have a caramel consistency.
  2. Spread the glaze over the peanut butter bars and sprinkle with cacao nibs and shredded coconut.
  3. Refrigerate bars for at least 1 hour before serving. Store in refrigerator or freezer.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving: Calories: 215; Total Fat: 16 grams; Saturated Fat: 7 grams; Sodium: 40 mg; Potassium: 70 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 17 grams; Dietary Fiber: 4 grams; Net Carbohydrates: 13 grams; Sugar: 11 grams (5 grams of added sugar); Protein: 5 grams

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The silent driver behind diabetes, cancer & heart disease…

May 31st, 2018 | no comments

 

Plus:

  • Mel’s weekly food pick:
    Wild Planet Salmon
  • Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
    Open-Face Salmon & Avocado Apple “Sandwich”

 

Why is it that we don’t actually feel the early stages of diabetes? The same goes for heart disease and cancer. These conditions don’t just happen overnight, on the contrary, they are often brewing inside of us for decades. And then when we’re finally handed a diagnosis of heart disease, we panic and will try anything to make it go away– to go back to how things used to be. 

The culprit? Chronic inflammation.

Typically when we think of something in our body being inflamed, thoughts of a cut finger or skinned knee appear in our mind. When we experience an injury like this, there’s no doubt that the affected area is inflamed. It shows telltale signs of bleeding, redness and pain. Our body then does exactly what it was designed to do: white blood cells rush to the injury site where they perform the role of cleaning up the wound. Our blood clots and eventually, a scab forms to seal the abrasion to keep harmful microorganisms at bay.

The injury and resulting inflammation just described is called acute inflammation, a necessary process that our body must get right, otherwise we would die.

Now let’s talk about chronic inflammation. This type is much more worrisome because unlike acute inflammation, where you can see and feel it, the chronic type lies silent in the body, so you really have no idea it’s even happening. This is the “brewing” part I spoke about in the opening paragraph. 

Similar to acute inflammation, chronic inflammation is triggered when something is off balance in the body, which then activates inflammatory markers to heal the perceived injury. A notable difference between the two, however, is that acute inflammation responds because of a physical injury and chronic is attempting to heal something that isn’t physically broken. It’s like a warning signal that flares up in response to your lifestyle habits; only the siren is silent. And because, unlike a broken wrist, we can’t see or feel the early stages of these diseases, chances are you will carry on as if nothing is off balance. Then one afternoon you walk into your doctor’s office for your annual check up and she breaks the news that you have prediabetes.

The PREVENTABLE causes of chronic inflammation:

Inflammation is fueled when you skimp on sleep, eat a diet rich in heavily processed foods, like fast food, frozen meals, and sweets and deficient in Earthfoods. It thrives in the bodies of those who use tobacco and lack physical exercise.

Let me be very clear on this, most chronic inflammation is caused by our choices and habits, those we repeat on a daily basis.  

I’m just going to be flat out real with you…

STOP ACTING LIKE YOU ARE INVINCIBLE! Like it won’t happen to you. Start behaving like the general manager of your own health and take it under your loving care.

STOP treating your car better than your body! You wouldn’t dare skip out on an oil change, because your car would burn up…and that would be expensive. But that’s just what happens to that precious temple of yours when you:

  • Only give it five hours of sleep (when you should be giving it at least seven or eight).
  • Don’t exercise it regularly…or worse, sit too long. 
  • Eat crappy food like sub sandwiches and guzzle sugar-sweetened (or diet) beverages with an attitude of “Hey man, if nothing’s broke, why would I try to fix it?” But what if it IS broke and you just don’t feel it yet? Remember, chronic inflammation is silent. 

If I come across a bit aggressive here, it’s because…dammit, I care about you! I know you are capable of so much more than what you’ve convinced yourself. You are limitless in what you can achieve for your health, so stop playing small! What are you afraid of? In the words of Marianne Williamson:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.”

Deep inside of us is a constant craving to feel good and at peace, but often times we lose touch and forget what good and peace feel like. You know exactly what I’m talking about if right now, you are reading these words knowing that things must change for you. You know that you deserve more and better than what you’ve been feeding yourself.

To cool chronic inflammation, start HERE:

The most powerful thing you can do to extinguish the flames of chronic inflammation– after you work on getting at least seven hours of sleep each night– is to consistently eat more Earthfoods.

Earthfoods are the foods we all know we should be eating more of: single ingredient, unprocessed, health-empowering, nutrient-rich foods from the earth. Simply put, they are the foods your body was designed to eat and truly longs for. They include vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, avocados, legumes, herbs, spices, cacao, green tea and many others. 

The very fact that your body thrives on Earthfoods– and you begin to crave them when eaten consistently–is proof positive that it prefers them.

I have found the easiest and most consistent way to get more Earthfoods is by turning each of my meals into a PeaceMeal. To learn how to do this for yourself, read my post on Meal Planning 101: Forming PeaceMeals

Your body’s natural state is ease and wellness. It wants to be healthy and will do everything in its power to maintain health. So give it a shot! Better yet, don’t just half-ass it…give it all you’ve got.

Oh my dear friend…if only YOU could see you like I see you, never again would you doubt your capacity for greatness. 

Please, don’t be afraid of your Light.

 

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Wild Planet Salmon

Wild Planet Wild Sockeye Salmon and Wild Pink Salmon are caught in icy Alaskan waters by local fishing families. The skinless, boneless fillets are packed and cooked just once to retain all of their nutrients and natural juices. 

Looking for ways to reduce chronic inflammation? Eat more omega-3 fatty acids! You’ll get an average of 470mg EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids per 2oz serving of Wild Planet Salmon. Although there is no set recommended standard dose of omega-3 fats, some health organizations recommend a daily dose of 250 to 500 milligrams of EPA and DHA for healthy adults.

This omega-3-rich fish is delicious straight from the can, tossed into a salad, or mixed with mashed avocado and served on apple slices (see my recipe below for Open-Face Salmon & Avocado Apple “Sandwich”). 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Open-Face Salmon & Avocado Apple “Sandwich”

This may look like lunch, but believe it or not, I’ve been eating it for breakfast and can’t believe how nourished and satisfied I feel afterwards.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking: Salmon for breakfast Melanie? Really?!

Hey, don’t knock it till you try it. Savory breakfasts tend to be more satiating because they usually contain some sort of protein, like eggs. Since I’m always trying to mix things up (and because on this particular morning we barely had any food in the house), I came up with this simple recipe that works for breakfast or lunch.

The recipe calls for only five ingredients: Wild Planet Canned Salmon (could also sub Wild Planet Tuna), chickpeas, full-fat plain Greek or Icelandic yogurt, avocado, and apple. Whatever you do, please don’t be tempted to use fat-free yogurt (blah!). The creaminess of the avocado really comes through better in the presence of whole milk yogurt. If dairy-free, you could substitute plain coconut yogurt.  

Print Recipe
Open-Face Salmon & Avocado Apple "Sandwich"
A nourishing breakfast (or lunch) full of heart-healthy fats: omega-3 fats from the salmon and monounsaturated fat from the avocado. Add a little chickpea for some extra fiber and serve on apple slices-- the perfect combination of savory and sweet with just the right amount of crunch! 3 Earthfoods per serving: ♥♥♥
Course Breakfast, Lunch
Servings
serving
Ingredients
  • 1/2 can Wild Planet Canned Salmon, undrained You could also use Wild Planet Canned Tuna or a hard boiled egg
  • 1/2 small avocado, peeled, seeded, and mashed
  • 1/4 cup chickpeas, mashed with fork
  • 2 tbsp. plain, whole milk Greek or Icelandic yogurt Use plain coconut yogurt if dairy-free
  • 1 large organic apple, sliced in half crosswise Leave skin on
Course Breakfast, Lunch
Servings
serving
Ingredients
  • 1/2 can Wild Planet Canned Salmon, undrained You could also use Wild Planet Canned Tuna or a hard boiled egg
  • 1/2 small avocado, peeled, seeded, and mashed
  • 1/4 cup chickpeas, mashed with fork
  • 2 tbsp. plain, whole milk Greek or Icelandic yogurt Use plain coconut yogurt if dairy-free
  • 1 large organic apple, sliced in half crosswise Leave skin on
Instructions
  1. Add salmon, mashed avocado, mashed chickpeas and yogurt to a small bowl. Mix together until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Cut apple in half crosswise and save one half for a snack later on! Slice remaining half crosswise into 4 slices. Carefully core each slice with a paring knife.
  3. Spread salmon mixture evenly over four apple slices and enjoy!
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving: Calories: 375; Total Fat: 17 grams; Saturated Fat: 4 grams; Sodium: 500 mg; Potassium: 660 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 36 grams; Dietary Fiber: 10 grams; Net Carbohydrates: 26 grams; Sugar: 13 grams (no added sugar); Protein: 22 grams

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Your health may NOT be 100% determined by your genes

May 24th, 2018 | no comments

Plus:

  • Mel’s weekly food pick:
    Nutiva Organic Coconut Flour
  • Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
    Blueberry Cinnamon Breakfast Muffins

You exercise most days of the week, eat lots of fruits and veggies, drink plenty of water, get enough rest, and visit your doctor at regular intervals…but what about your belief system? Do you believe your body is already healthy or are you taking these measures out of fear to delay what you believe to be your ultimate genetic fate (i.e high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, etc.)?

Your belief system plays a big role, especially when it comes to the state of your health. Dr. Bruce Lipton, the author of The Biology of Belief, speaks of something called epigenetics. In a July 15th, 2014 blog post, Lipton defined epigenetics this way:

Instead of the widely held, largely deterministic belief among biologists about genetics, namely that our genes “control” or “determine” us, it is rather the case that our genes respond to cues in their environment, such as one’s experience and perception of, or beliefs regarding your own life.

Dr. Lipton went on to explain the science behind epigenetics in an August 28, 2014 blog post:

In a plastic tissue culture dish, the composition of the growth medium (environment) controls the fate of the cells. The human body, is by definition, a “skin-covered culture dish” containing fifty trillion cells. The cells are maintained by a culture medium popularly known as blood. The chemical composition of the blood is the equivalent of the culture medium used in the plastic culture dishes. Changing the composition of the blood’s chemistry is the same as changing a culture’s growth medium. The brain is the regulatory organ that regulates and maintains the chemical composition of the blood. The brain’s control of the blood’s chemistry is linked to our perceptions (mind) and emotions (reflecting chemical signals in the blood). When you have a perception of love, the brain releases oxytocin (love hormone that regulates the body’s metabolism and supports growth), serotonin and growth hormone, all chemicals that when added to cells in a culture dish will enhance growth and health of the cells. In contrast, when a person is in fear, their brain releases stress hormones (cortisol, norepinephrine and histamine) that shut down a cell’s growth process and inhibits the immune system, which happens to be completely unsustainable for life.

He ends by stating the following:

Your thoughts adjust the brain’s control of the blood, which in turn controls the fate of the cells … mind over body!

I invite you to read the above paragraph again so that you can fully understand the power of your thoughts and beliefs in all areas of your life. Essentially, what Dr. Lipton is suggesting is that your mind controls your genes.

You are not a victim of your genetics. You can change your mind any way you desire- positive or negative. A victim mentality of: High cholesterol runs in my family, therefore I am doomed to get high cholesterol, can very easily be changed to the empowerment mentality of: I am in complete control of my health and I call the shots. I am healthy and well and my blood is clean and pure.

It really is a matter of choice! Choose to think and believe in an empowering manner … what can it hurt?

Still, you may not be convinced that thoughts become things and have the power to affect your physical world. Let’s move to an example offering evidence you can see with your own two eyes.

Dr. Masaru Emoto, a Japanese author, photographer and researcher, did some mind-blowing work on how thoughts and feelings affect physical reality.

Using samples of newly formed ice crystals, Dr. Emoto showed how their patterns changed shape and color depending on the nature of the words, concentrated thoughts and music they were exposed to. For example, when exposed to kind and loving words, such as gratitude, love and peace, the water crystals formed beautifully colored snowflake patterns (top image). Interestingly, when exposed to negative statement, like “you fool”, “you disgust me” and “evil”, the crystals formed asymmetrical patterns with dull colors (bottom image).

This research opens up an entire new world of possibilities on how the power of our thoughts create our reality. Just imagine the state of health you can create for yourself by simply shifting your thoughts and beliefs just a little bit. You have so much more control than you think!

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Nutiva Organic Coconut Flour

 

Coconut flour is made from ground and dried coconut meat, which is the white interior portion of the coconut. It has a natural sweetness, making it ideal for baking, and is suitable for those following a gluten-free diet.

Two tablespoons of coconut flour has only 3 grams of net carbohydrates– this is due to its abundance of dietary fiber (7 grams per serving).

You can use coconut flour to make:  

  • Breads
  • Muffins
  • Cookies
  • Pancakes
  • Pizza crust
  • Sandwich wraps
  • Breadcrumbs 

For a high fiber muffin recipe using coconut flour, check out this week’s recipe pick for Blueberry Cinnamon Breakfast Muffins

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Blueberry Cinnamon Breakfast Muffins

I love blueberry muffins, but I don’t like what they do to my blood sugar. I adapted a recipe I found online by cutting the amount of honey in half and adding psyllium husk powder to increase the fiber content and lower the glycemic response (the effect that a food/meal has on blood sugar after it’s eaten) of the final product. As a result, these muffins are NOT sweet, but I think you will find the coconut flour offers a pleasant natural sweetness on its own. 

Blueberry Cinnamon Breakfast Muffins taste amazing with a dab of butter or fresh ground peanut or almond butter. 

The best part about these muffins is they are diabetic-friendly, with 8 grams of fiber, loads of good healthy fat, 6 grams of protein and only 10 grams of net carbohydrates.

They are also gluten, dairy, and grain free! If I am going to enjoy a Blueberry Cinnamon Breakfast Muffin for breakfast, I usually smear it with a teaspoon or two of Kerrygold grass-fed butter and pair it with a hard-boiled egg. Enjoy! ♥ 

Print Recipe
Blueberry Cinnamon Breakfast Muffins
Whip up a batch of these amazing muffins and store in the refrigerator for up to 7 days or freezer for up to a month (but I doubt they will last that long!). Spread with grass-fed butter or fresh ground almond butter and pair it with a hard boiled egg...breakfast is served! This recipe is free of gluten, dairy, and grains. 1 Earthfood per serving: ♥
Course Breakfast
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
muffins
Ingredients
  • 1 cup organic coconut flour Nutiva brand
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tbsp. psyllium husk powder I use NOW brand psyllium husk powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 10 oz. unsweetened coconut milk
  • 6 organic free-range eggs
  • 1/4 cup organic virgin coconut oil
  • 4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen organic blueberries
Course Breakfast
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
muffins
Ingredients
  • 1 cup organic coconut flour Nutiva brand
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tbsp. psyllium husk powder I use NOW brand psyllium husk powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 10 oz. unsweetened coconut milk
  • 6 organic free-range eggs
  • 1/4 cup organic virgin coconut oil
  • 4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen organic blueberries
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift the coconut flour, salt, baking soda, psyllium husk powder and cinnamon in a bowl.
  2. In a blender or bowl mix the honey, milk, eggs, coconut oil and vanilla. Add the chia seeds and blend on low. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in the blueberries to mixture at the very end, and gently stir together.
  4. Spoon the batter into greased cupcake sleeves or tins and bake at 350 for 25 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.
  5. Cool on rack and serve.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts: Calories: 180Total Fat: 11 g; Saturated Fat: 8 g; Sodium: 260 mg; Potassium: 85 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 18 g; Dietary fiber: 8 g; Net Carbohydrates: 10 grams; Sugar:  9 g (6 grams of added sugar from the honey); Protein: 6 g

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Make your own protein powder (it’s so much healthier!)

May 17th, 2018 | no comments

Plus:

  • Mel’s weekly food pick:
    Bob’s Red Mill Pea Protein Powder
  • Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
    Earthfood Powder

If you’ll recall from last week’s post, a healthy and well-balanced shake should have five components: A liquid base like almond milk, fruits and veggies, functional foods such as cacao or ginger, healthy fat, and healthy protein.

Protein is essential for balanced blood sugar. It also slows digestion and helps to keep you full so you eat less! Healthy protein sources include: plant-based protein powders, Bone Broth protein powder, fresh ground nut or seed butter, flax, hemp or chia seeds.

I’ve spent countless dollars on overpriced protein powders over the years. And you know what? I wasn’t really happy with most of them. Other than unsweetened plant-based and Bone Broth protein powders, most contain either added sugar, sugar alcohols, stevia, or worse…artificial sweeteners! 

Finally the lightbulb turned on and I thought: I can do SO much better than this! 

Rather than make my homemade protein powder all about protein, I decided to raise the nutrition and antioxidant potential by adding some healthy fat and functional food. My Earthfood Powder (scroll down for the recipe!) is a very simple recipe with only seven ingredients: 

  • Pea protein powder: for protein!
  • Pumpkin seeds (pepitas): for fiber, fat, and protein.
  • Flaxseed: for omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.
  • Hemp hearts: for more omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and protein.
  • Ground cinnamon: for flavor and blood sugar control.
  • Cacao powder: for flavor, blood sugar control, mood, and magnesium!
  • Sea salt.

You can add Earthfood Powder (see recipe below) to oatmeal, yogurt, homemade protein bars, or shakes!

If you didn’t get the chance to check out last week’s recipe, click HERE for my Tropical Turmeric Shake…the perfect meal in a cup! You can add two tablespoons of Earthfood Powder in place of the hemp hearts in this recipe. 

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Bob’s Red Mill Pea Protein

Pea powder is a great way to add more protein to your homemade protein powder. 

Lots of plant-based protein powders on the market today use pea protein powder, as it blends very well in shakes and has a much smoother texture compared to brown rice protein.

The only ingredient in Bob’s Red Mill Pea Protein Powder is pea protein isolate. What that means is the protein is isolated from the peas using a low-heat, water based process. Unlike many other pea protein powders, there are no chemical solvents used. 

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Print Recipe
Earthfood Powder
Tired of overpriced protein powders full of additives and artificial sweeteners? Give my Earthfood Powder a try! A great source of healthy fat and protein...all from Earthfoods. This is how Mother Nature intended us to eat! This recipe is free of gluten, grains and dairy. 2 Earthfoods per serving: ♥♥
Course Smoothies
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
servings (serving size: 2 tbsp.)
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 cup hemp hearts
  • 1 cup milled flaxseed
  • 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. raw cacao powder
  • 1 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1 cup Bob's Red Mill Pea Protein Powder
Course Smoothies
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
servings (serving size: 2 tbsp.)
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 cup hemp hearts
  • 1 cup milled flaxseed
  • 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. raw cacao powder
  • 1 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1 cup Bob's Red Mill Pea Protein Powder
Instructions
  1. Add pepitas through sea salt to a food processor or blender and process until seeds are broken down (about 1 minute).
  2. Pour contents into a large mixing bowl or container with lid and add pea protein, mixing (or shaking) until thoroughly combined.
  3. Store in airtight container in refrigerator or freezer. Enjoy! 🙂
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving (2 tbsp.): Calories: 100Total Fat: 7 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Sodium: 150 mg; Potassium: 0 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 3 g; Dietary fiber: 3 g; Net Carbohydrates: 0 grams; Sugar: 0 g; Protein: 8 g

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How to make the perfect breakfast shake

May 10th, 2018 | no comments

Plus: 

  • Mel’s weekly food pick:
    MCT oil
  • Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
    Tropical Turmeric Shake

About ten years ago I went on the hunt for a simple breakfast that would pack the most nutrition possible in one container. I found my solution in a shake.

Some ask: Why not just eat the food instead? That’s a fair question. If you think about it though, how likely are you to sit down with a fork and eat a plate full of kale, avocado, berries, almond butter, turmeric root, and chia seeds for breakfast? That’s what I thought.

My Peace of Health Shakes offer the best of both worlds: nutrition and convenience. All you need is a blender, a handful of ingredients, and five minutes. Each shake contains at least three servings of Earthfoods, which are whole, plant-based, nutrient-rich foods from the earth. They are powerful beyond measure and include vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, and other natural whole foods.

Do-It-Yourself Shakes:

To create your very own Peace of Health Shake, here are five components you should consider including to ensure it is well-balanced and satisfying.

  1. Liquid Base:
    The best base for your shake is one that’s low in sugar, without added artificial sweeteners like sucralose (Splenda) or aspartame. Choose water, coconut water, unsweetened green tea or unsweetened almond, cashew, coconut or flax milk.
    Amount per shake:
    12-16 ounces (when adding avocado, you may need to increase the amount of liquid)
  2. Healthy Protein:
    Protein is essential for balanced blood sugar. It also slows digestion and helps to keep you full so you eat less! Healthy protein sources include plant-based protein powders, Bone Broth protein powder, fresh ground nut or seed butter (almond, peanut, cashew, sunflower, etc.), tahini, flax, hemp or chia seeds. Note: Nuts, seeds, nut/seed butters and tahini also double as a Healthy Fat!

    Amount per shake (pick one to two servings):
    ½-1 scoop powder; 1 tbsp. nut or seed butter, tahini, flax, hemp or chia seeds; 2 tbsp. nuts/seeds: almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts.
  3. Healthy Fat:
    Most people forget to add healthy fat to their shake. Eating too little fat causes increased hunger and cravings, lowered metabolism and weight gain (yes … weight gain!). If you want to stay satisfied for hours, add a serving or two of healthy fat to your smoothie, such as: Fresh ground nut or seed butter (almond, peanut, cashew, sunflower, etc.), tahini, flax, hemp or chia seeds, coconut oil, coconut butter, MCT oil or avocado. Note: Nuts, seeds, nut/seed butters and tahini also double as a Healthy Protein!
    Amount per shake (pick one to three servings):
    1 tbsp. nut or seed butter; 2 tbsp. nuts or seeds (see Healthy Protein above for a list); 1 tbsp. tahini; 1 tbsp. chia, flax or hemp seeds; ½-1 tbsp. coconut oil; ½-1 tbsp. coconut butter; ½-1 tbsp. MCT oil; ½ of small or ¼ of large avocado

  4. Veggies & Fruit:
    Boost the cleansing power of your shake with a couple servings of healthy carbohydrates, like spinach, kale or other leafy green, greens powder, carrots, beets, berries, banana, apple or pear. Fruits and veggies also offer a healthy dose of fiber, which can help prevent constipation. Bonus!

    Amount per shake (pick 1+ veggie and one fruit):
    1 big handful of spinach, kale or other green; 1 big handful of cabbage; 1 scoop greens powder; ½-1 cup carrots, beets or frozen cauliflower; ½ cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling); ½ cup fruit
  5. Functional Foods:
    Functional foods are foods that have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition. They are super easy to add to a shake! Functional foods include: cacao powder, fresh turmeric, fresh ginger, cinnamon, maca powder, and matcha!

    Amount per shake (pick 1-3 servings):
    1 tbsp. cacao, fresh turmeric or ginger; ½ tsp. matcha, ½-1 tsp. maca, cinnamon or dried ginger or turmeric

Not sweet enough?

My Peace of Health Shakes are not sweet…and that’s by design! This is something I had to work on decreasing little by little over the years. If you are just getting started and would prefer your shake a little on the sweeter side, try adding one of the following: 

  • A natural flavor enhancer like a few dashes of ground cinnamon, a wedge of lemon, lime or orange, a few sprigs of fresh mint, or a teaspoon of organic, pure vanilla or peppermint extract and blend!
  • An extra serving of fruit.
  • Up to one teaspoon of raw honey, pure maple syrup, or coconut nectar, or one pitted date and blend!
Mel’s weekly food pick:
MCT oil

Let me just start out by shouting from the rooftop: I am in L-O-V-E with MCT oil! When I add a tablespoon to my morning smoothie, I swear my entire world turns to pink glitter and everyone I talk to sounds like the legendary and sultry Mr. Barry White (seriously). Yeah…it’s that good!

So what exactly is this super oil and how can you use it to support your health? MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglyceride—a special type of saturated fatty acid derived from coconut oil that is quickly absorbed by the body and metabolized as fuel, instead of being stored as fat. What this means is, it can boost your metabolism, burn more calories and fat, and reduce fat storage, while curbing your appetite.

The benefits of MCT oil go way beyond weight control. It can also help you:

  • Improve your gut health
  • Experience a sharp and focused mind
  • Reduce inflammation in your body
  • Improve digestion
  • Balance hormone levels
  • Improve your mood (think pink glitter and Barry White)
  • Increase your energy level

Are you feeling super motivated to buy a bottle of MCT oil and pour it over everything you eat? Slow down there cowboy! If you overdo it, you may experience gastrointestinal distress or diarrhea. Start with one teaspoon and work your way up, adding one teaspoon at a time over the course of a few weeks. You can enjoy one to two tablespoons of MCT oil a day once tolerated. To further reduce the chance of experiencing “disaster pants”, always pair MCT oil with another fat, such as extra virgin olive oil, avocado, or almond butter. 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Tropical Turmeric Shake

A well-balanced and satisfying shake contains five main ingredients:

  1. A liquid base
  2. Healthy protein
  3. Healthy fat
  4. Veggies and fruit
  5. Functional foods

My Tropical Turmeric Shake uses unsweetened coconut milk as the liquid base, hemp hearts for protein, avocado and MCT oil for healthy fat, fresh kale, lime, mango, and pineapple for veggies and fruit, and fresh turmeric and ginger for functional foods. 

It’s loaded with tons of healing Earthfoods (six servings to be exact). Drink it for breakfast or lunch and I promise you will feel on top of the world! 

Print Recipe
Tropical Turmeric Shake
My shakes are not sweet...and that's by design! This is something I had to work on decreasing little by little over the years. If you are just getting started and would prefer your shake a little on the sweeter side, try adding an extra serving of fruit or one teaspoon of raw honey. This recipe is gluten, dairy, and grain free. 6 Earthfoods per serving: ♥♥♥♥♥♥
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
serving
Ingredients
  • 12-16 ounces unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 lime
  • 1 tbsp. fresh turmeric root Alternatively you can use 1 tsp. of powdered turmeric
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger root Alternatively you can use 1 tsp. of powdered ginger
  • 1 tbsp. hemp hearts Or 2 tbsp. Earthfood Powder (see Recipe Notes)
  • 1/2 small avocado, peeled and seeded
  • 1/2 tbsp. MCT oil I like Dr. Formulated MCT Oil
  • 2 cups fresh organic kale or spinach
  • 1/4 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1/4 cup frozen mango or 1/4 of a banana
  • Sprinkle organic, unsweetened coconut flakes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
serving
Ingredients
  • 12-16 ounces unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 lime
  • 1 tbsp. fresh turmeric root Alternatively you can use 1 tsp. of powdered turmeric
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger root Alternatively you can use 1 tsp. of powdered ginger
  • 1 tbsp. hemp hearts Or 2 tbsp. Earthfood Powder (see Recipe Notes)
  • 1/2 small avocado, peeled and seeded
  • 1/2 tbsp. MCT oil I like Dr. Formulated MCT Oil
  • 2 cups fresh organic kale or spinach
  • 1/4 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1/4 cup frozen mango or 1/4 of a banana
  • Sprinkle organic, unsweetened coconut flakes
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients (except coconut) to a high-powered blender (such as Vitamix, Blendtec or Ninja) in the order listed and blend until smooth. Top with a sprinkle of organic, unsweetened coconut flakes. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes

Click HERE for Earthfood Powder recipe!

Nutrition Facts per serving: Calories: 415Total Fat: 27 g; Saturated Fat: 15 g; Sodium: 65 mg; Potassium: 1125 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 40 g; Dietary fiber: 14 g; Net Carbohydrates: 26 grams; Sugar: 15 g (no added sugar); Protein: 11 g

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