White Bean & Kale Soup

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Vegan White Bean & Kale Soup – easy to prepare and delicious.

This is a perfect weeknight meal!

 

Ingredients:

1/2 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 c diced carrots (2-3 carrots)
1/2lb (4 cups) kale, removed stems, chop
1 14oz can diced Italian tomatoes
1 14oz can white beans, drained & rinsed
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
salt & pepper to taste
6 cups vegetable broth
*optional – red pepper flakes or cayenne

Directions:
Saute onion, celery, carrots and garlic in 2-3 TBSP of vegetable broth for about 5 minutes. Add seasonings and kale and saute for anoth 3-4 minutes. Add tomatoes, beans and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer on low until vegetables are tender. Enjoy!

Eat Healthy & Thrive!

www.eathealthyandthrive.com

 

 

Improve your Nutrition, Improve your Health

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Improve your nutrition, improve your health.

Sounds simple enough, right?
Unfortunately that’s not always the case. With the loads of mis-information floating around the internet combined with the outright lies the food industry has been feeding us for decades, navigating the waters of healthy eating can be rough to say the least. One of the biggest problems that I see are the millions of fad diets…low fat, low carb, high protein, high fat, calories counting, point counting, etc. Everyone looking for not only a quick fix, but a way to justify their bad eating habits.

You’ve heard it before – “diets don’t work.” But when you’re faced with contradictory information online and physicians that have little to no training in nutrition, you may be left feeling lost and confused about how exactly to take charge of your health and make the lifestyle changes that are necessary for optimal weight and good health.

The good news is, there’s no reason to go it alone. I have developed several programs to help you set your course. Everything from a basic introduction to more personalized long term programs that guide you every step of the way. My aim for you is not a short term quick fix. Instead,  I will teach you in a relatively short period of time, how to make changes that will last a lifetime.

Figuring out healthy eating and living often takes a bit more than simply counting calories and exercising a few times a week. A healthy lifestyle is something that is a part of who you are – not just something you do once in awhile.

The food you eat can make you energized and healthy or it can make you fatigued, unhealthy and overweight. By learning good nutrition and cooking techniques, you will have the tools to create the lasting change you want.

You will learn what true healthy eating really is. You will never need to count calories or points, weigh your food, or track and log every bite.

Put your health as you number one priority. When you are committed to that, everything falls into place.

For more information, visit my website or connect with me on Facebook.

Eat Healthy & Thrive

www.eathealthyandthrive.com

The Truth about Protein Powders

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If I had a nickel for every time I am asked about “getting enough protein”……
It’s no surprise, our society os protein obsessed. Everybody is worried about somehow being protein deficient. (that aint gonna happen folks!) And big food companies keeps feeding the frenzy… high protein Cheerios anyone?
This misconception is particularly rampant among the gym crowd. People think they need more protein to build bigger muscles. (sorry, muscle is built in the gym, not in the kitchen). The sale of protein powders and shakes has skyrocketed in recent years. Not only are these shakes completely unnecessary, you can in fact be doing more harm than good. I recommend that all of my clients (even elite athletes) ditch the protein powders and look to whole plant foods instead.

The article below is from Dr. Joel Fuhrman. To read more, click here

“Isolated protein in the form of powders — especially whey and soy protein — that are blended into shakes and smoothies are wildly popular, especially among men attempting to build muscle at the gym. Is this a healthful way to build muscle?

Exercise is the primary factor that determines muscle mass.
The first important thing to note is that it is exercise — not food — that stimulates muscle growth. After a workout triggers muscle-building, dietary protein provides the raw materials that muscles need in order to grow. If you are following a Nutritarian diet, which includes many protein-rich whole plant foods, you can easily consume adequate protein for muscle growth by increasing your total caloric intake based on your level of hunger. Another factor is to time your meals — because excess protein calories are not stored as protein (they are stored as fat), it is important to provide the body with raw materials for muscle growth following a workout, as the muscles begin their recovery period. Naturally, we will become hungry within an hour or two of a workout, and having a protein-containing meal closely following exercise is advantageous for recovery and muscle mass. Taking care to include protein-rich plant foods, like green vegetables, beans and seeds will provide sufficient raw material for muscle growth.

What’s wrong with protein powders?
Protein intake, especially animal protein, is known to be the major dietary determinant of circulating IGF-1 levels. When we consume animal protein, the body increases its production of a hormone called IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1). IGF-1 is one of the body’s important growth promoters early in life, but later in life IGF-1 promotes the aging process. IGF-1 has been shown to promote the growth, proliferation and spread of cancer cells, and elevated IGF-1 levels are linked to increased risk of several cancers. Our society’s obsession with over-consuming protein is a contributing factor to our epidemic of cancer. In addition to the issue of IGF-1 and cancer, excess protein may negatively affect calcium stores, kidney function and bone health, and promote cardiovascular events.
Learn more about IGF-1 and cancer.

IGF-1 is elevated primarily by animal protein and soy protein.
It is the amino acid profile of animal protein that sparks IGF-1 production. However, of all plant proteins, the essential amino acid profile of soy is said to be the most “complete,” meaning the closest to animal protein (other plant proteins contain more than adequate amounts of essential amino acids for human nutrition). Therefore, unnecessarily high intakes of animal protein or soy protein could be harmful.

The soy products that are problematic are those that contain unnaturally concentrated soy protein, such as protein powders and meat substitutes — highly processed foods that retain little or none of the beneficial nutrients contained in whole soybeans. There should be a variety of beans in the diet, not just soybeans; furthermore, soybeans should be eaten in their minimally processed forms — edamame, tempeh, tofu and unsweetened soy milk.

Can you build muscle while keeping IGF-1 levels in a safe range?
IGF-1 is very important for growth and maintenance of muscle tissue. However, muscle growth is not dependent on only the amount of IGF-1 circulating in the blood — muscle tissue produces its own IGF-1 in response to strength training to fuel muscle growth.14 So a combination of strength training and a Nutritarian diet will result in lower, cancer-preventive levels of IGF-1 levels circulating in the blood, while still allowing for local production of IGF-1 for muscle-building.

Is there a healthier alternative to protein powders that can support muscle growth?
Whole food sources of protein are the best choice. For blending into shakes and smoothies, instead of nutrient-poor protein powders, I recommend high-protein plant foods such as sunflower seeds, hemp seeds and Mediterranean pine nuts. These same foods can be incorporated into post-workout meals, along with generous amounts of green vegetables, beans and intact whole grains (such as oats, quinoa and wild rice) which are rich in micronutrients as well as protein. For those that insist on using isolated protein powders, hemp, rice and pea proteins are better choices than soy protein, since their amino acid profiles are not as close to that of animal protein.”
-Dr. Joel Fuhrman, http://www.drfuhrman.com

Eat Healthy & Thrive

www.eathealthyandthrive.com

 

Vegan Stuffed Shells with Cauliflower & Spinach

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup soy milk
1 head cauliflower, chopped
salt to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 TBSP vegan pesto (recipe follows)
1 cup precooked spinach, cooled and drained (*frozen can be used instead, just thaw and drain all liquid)
1 box jumbo pasta shells
2-3 cups marinara sauce of choice

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400.
Spread about 1/2 cup sauce in bottom of 9″ x 13″ pan.

To prepare the filling:

Combine milk, cauliflower, salt, and garlic in a medium size saucepan with a heavy bottom. Cover and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Pour the mixture into a food processor. Process to desired consistency. I prefer it a little coarse instead of completely smooth. Stir in spinach and pesto.

Cook the pasta shells according to package directions. remove from heat when al dente and drain.

Evenly distribute the filling among the shells, and place them on top of the marinara in the dish. When all of the shells are filled, pour the remaining marinara on top of the shells. Cover the dish with foil, and bake for 20 minutes.

Easy Vegan Pesto

Ingredients:
2 cups tightly packed fresh basil
1/2 cup pine nuts
2-3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (to taste)
* up to 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil OR vegetable broth
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1-2 TBSP lemon juice
3 TBSP nutritional yeast

Directions:

Place the basil, walnuts or pine nuts, and garlic in a food processor fitted with the S blade. Pulse to combine, until the mixture is coarsely ground. Add the sea salt, pepper, lemon, and nutritional yeast, and pulse a few more times to combine.
Turn the motor on and drizzle the olive oil in a thin stream. I prefer to use as little oil as possible – so add just enough to get ingredients to combine. If you prefer oil free, then use vegetable broth instead.

Eat Healthy & Thrive

www.eathealthyandthrive.com

Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator Review

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I received some samples of Vega Sport Hydrator to review and since I’m familiar with Vega products I happily agreed.

The Vega Hydrator is one of my favorite electrolyte replacement drinks. I tastes great, mixes well and is easy on the stomach. I have used on many of my training runs and have a good experience with it each time.

As endurance athletes know, staying hydrated is crucial and involves more than just drinking plain old H2O. *FYI- drinking too much water can cause an electrolyte imbalance and can be potentially life threatening. Replenish those electrolytes folks!

As a plant based athlete, I am always on the look out for companies/products that support that. Vega is one such company.

The Vega Electrolyte Hydrator is a natural, alkaline-forming drink mix, free from sugar and artificial sweeteners, Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator is formulated with all the essential electrolytes your body needs to stay hydrated during workouts.

Available in Lemon Lime and Berry flavors – (I have tried both flavors and like them both)

Keep in mind that that the hydrator is just that – a hydrator, and has zero calories.

Overall, I was happy with the product and feel that it did exactly what it was designed to do. Check out the complete line of Vega products.

#fuelyourbetter

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Lower Your Cholesterol

 

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The American Heart Association estimates that 102.2 million (almost 50%) of adults in the United States have total cholesterol levels above 200 mg/dL, placing them at risk for cardiovascular disease – elevated cholesterol is one of the most important risk factors for heart disease.

In the Framingham Heart Study, deaths due to heart disease were absent in subjects with total cholesterol levels below 150 mg/dL, but as cholesterol increased above 150 mg/dL, heart disease rates began to increase.

A high nutrient diet is by far the most effective method of reducing cholesterol while avoiding side effects. And should be your front line of defense, rather than reaching for a pill bottle. Drugs are not as effective for reducing cholesterol as a high nutrient diet. After six weeks of taking cholesterol-lowering statin medications, cholesterol levels decreased by 26% compared to a 33% with a high nutrient diet. Statins have many side effects and are associated with liver dysfunction, acute renal failure, cataracts, diabetes, and impaired muscle function.

Not only will a high nutrient diet lower cholesterol, it will also decrease heart disease risk by improving other factors such glucose levels, blood pressure, and body weight.
The safest and healthiest strategy for reducing cholesterol:

•Eat a high nutrient, vegetable-based diet with plenty of raw vegetables and cooked greens.

•Eat berries and pomegranates. The antioxidants in berries and pomegranates, such as anthocyanin and punicalagin, are especially effective in improving both LDL and HDL cholesterol.
•Avoid trans fats and minimize saturated fats. High cholesterol and heart disease deaths are more closely associated with saturated fat intake than any other part of the American diet.

•Avoid refined carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates have been found to be just as damaging to the cardiovascular system as saturated fats.

•Eat at least one ounce of raw nuts and seeds daily. The phytosterols found in nuts and seeds lower blood cholesterol by blocking both cholesterol absorption during digestion and the re-absorption of cholesterol produced by the liver.

•Limit your intake of animal protein to at most 6 ounces per week. If you have heart disease or significantly high cholesterol, avoid animal products altogether. Animal protein consumption directly increases heart disease risk.

•Eat beans daily. Beans are packed with resistant starch, soluble fiber, and phytochemicals which help to lower cholesterol. A 19-year study found that people who eat beans at least four times a week have a 21% lower risk of heart disease than those who eat them less than once a week.

•Have 1 Tbsp. of ground flaxseed each day. Flaxseeds contain beneficial omega-3 fats, lignans, flavonoids, sterols, and fiber. Clinical trials show that daily flaxseed consumption reduces total cholesterol by 6-11%. Try adding ground flaxseeds to smoothies or sprinkling them on salads.
References:
Joel Fuhrman, MD http://www.drfuhrman.com
Michael Greger, MD http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/cholesterol/

 

When dietary intervention is not enough
Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D. has developed a product to specifically to meet the needs of his patients who still have LDL cholesterol above 100 mg/dl after dietary intervention and desire effective and natural maintenance of healthy cholesterol levels.

No other product on the market offers this combination of quality ingredients: cholesterol-lowering plant sterols plus high-antioxidant extracts of pomegranate, chokeberry, and green tea.

Plant sterols have long been recognized, and are FDA approved, for their capacity to reduce LDL cholesterol. Plant sterols (also known as phytosterols) naturally occur in a range of plant sources such as vegetable oils, nuts, grains, and seeds. They function as cholesterol-lowering agents in the blood by blocking the absorption of cholesterol from food during digestion and by blocking the re-absorption of cholesterol manufactured by the liver. There is a significant amount of evidence – more than 40 human studies – supporting the LDL-lowering properties of plant sterols, collectively showing an approximate decrease of up to 15% in LDL levels. No negative health effects were reported in these studies. Read more…

Eat Healthy & Thrive

http://www.eathealthyandthrive.com

Private Cooking Lessons

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Private Cooking Lessons For Individuals and Small Groups

Do you want to improve your healthy cooking skills? Put more plant based foods on your plate?
My goal is to show you how easy cooking healthy, delicious meals can be.

I offer private instruction in your home.

We will start with an introduction to cooking with whole foods, where you’ll learn how to make-over your pantry to eliminate processed foods, understand labels, and learn about healthy cooking methods.

We will decide on the menu in advance of our session and then I provide some nutrition education while we cook together.

These lessons can be one-on-one or for small groups (6 people maximum)
Classes are 2 hrs. Prices vary, depending on location and group size. Please email for more info.

Eat Healthy & Thrive
www.eathealthyandthrive.com