Go Nuts!

Well, not literally, but we’re already a little nuts in different ways!

Did you know that some recent research has found that incorporating walnuts into meals on a daily basis has been linked to a reduction in the concentration of inflammatory biomarkers? While they may not be the go-to nut for meals and snacking (that would be pistachios for me!), walnuts do have essential omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid). This plays an important role in the functioning of the brain (and have you noticed, they look like a brain?). And it helps mitigate heart disease and inflammation.

Try some as a snack maybe mixed with other nuts you like, add them in a salad, or to cookie/cake recipes or even make a walnut (instead of pine nut) pesto. Experiment with them in other foods, chop them finely and sprinkle them. With the holidays coming up, try them in stuffing. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover something profound!

Reference: Mind Body Green Magazine, Scientists Find More Evidence For Adding This Inflammation-Fighting Nut To Your Diet

Mushrooms for Health and Well-Being

Guest Post and photo by: Conny Jasper

Mushrooms are an amazing superfood packed with vital nutrients and healing benefits. They are a great source of antioxidants, amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and other health promoting substances.

Many delicious and nutritious varieties include the shiitake, maitake, lion’s mane, oyster, and porcini. They are often available at most natural and gourmet food stores. However, there are hundreds of others that grow wild in the fields and forests. Naturally, it is necessary to properly identify wild mushrooms, and know exactly what they are, in order to avoid any problems.

Lion’s mane is one of the most interesting mushrooms with an array of health promoting properties. Much evidence based research has been conducted on this mushroom, and it has been shown to be beneficial for: mental health, boosting immunity, improving energy, and combatting inflammation.

Mushrooms should be thoroughly cooked and not eaten raw. Uncooked mushrooms can cause digestive upset. This is because they consist of a fiber called chitin. Cooking breaks down the fiber and makes it easier to digest. Some mushrooms cook within 30 minutes, while others can take as long as 90 minutes. It depends on the freshness and density of the mushroom. They are best cooked with light oil or organic butter. To fully enhance the flavor, add some white wine, vegetable broth, and a pinch of Himalayan pink salt. Bon appetit!

Conny Jasper is a holistic life coach, certified yoga instructor, certified Reiki Master, and certified massage therapist. She has a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and helps people to heal and balance their body and mind. https://connyjasper8.wixsite.com/artist

Saffron For Health

By Guest Blogger: Rae Steinbach

Have you considered the health benefits of adding saffron to your diet?

A range of health benefits may flow from simply consuming natural ingredients. Consider saffron. Research shows it can boost health in numerous ways when taken as a saffron drink or ingested with food. Here’s more:

It helps protect the heart

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.  Saffron might help. This is because it reduces the stress on arteries and blood vessels. What this means is less risk of heart attack and similar cardiovascular health problems.

Managing anxiety

There’s evidence that saffron can improve mental and emotional health. Specifically, saffron has been shown to reduce anxiety to a degree. Its mood-boosting qualities also make it a powerful aphrodisiac for some. 

Improving immunity

Just as important as treating illnesses properly, is guarding against developing illnesses in the first place.

Saffron may help in this capacity: Research indicates it boosts the immune system. This makes colds, viruses, and similar illnesses less likely.

Adding saffron to the diet can be very beneficial for health and wellness.

Possible option if looking for a saffron drink

Please note: With the introduction of any new product, herb, or supplement, please consult with your healthcare professional before partaking, to ensure there aren’t any contraindications.

More about Rae Steinbach:

Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing. Twitter: @araesininthesun

Mindful Eating

For our bodies to get the most out of the food we eat, it’s not only about what we eat, but our experience as well. Enjoying a meal using all of our senses will make a big impact on absorption – smell, taste, touch, sight, sound. Here are some additional helpful tips:

~Eat in a settled atmosphere.

~Ayurveda (the sister science to yoga) suggests we should include all 6 tastes in our meals: sweet, sour, astringent, bitter, salty, and pungent.

~Only eat when hungry.

~Enjoy a meal at a moderate pace. Like Goldilocks, not too fast, not too slow…

~Don’t eat when you’re upset. Your emotions are directly linked to your gut.

~Always sit down to eat (don’t eat while driving, typing on the computer or phone)

~Minimize raw foods, which are harder to digest than cooked ones.

Source: The Chopra Center

Immunity Nutrients

By Guest Blogger – Nicole Printon

Our immune systems need to be fully functional at all times, particularly during a global pandemic.  Lifestyle habits are essential: regular exercise (active and passive, for balance), good sleep habits (regular bed time-before 10 pm for melatonin/cortisol ratios), and daily self care.  Good nutrition is key.

Incorporate these specific nutrients to boost immune function:

Vitamin A – plays a regulatory role in immune responses 
Foods rich in vitamin A: carrots, sweet potatoes, iceberg lettuce, king mackerel, salmon, goat cheese, cheddar cheese, hard boiled eggs

Vitamin C – a powerful antioxidant, squelching free radicals in the body that cause chronic inflammation.  Recent research suggests C protects against bacteria linked to ulcers and stomach cancer.  C supports cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system
Foods Rich in Vitamin C: cantaloupe, bell peppers, broccoli, kiwi, tomatoes

Vitamin D – Research has shown that people with adequate D levels get sick less often.  For adequate amounts of Vitamin D, consuming foods rich in D is NOT enough.  Daily exposure to sunlight – sunscreen free; about 15 minutes daily is critical.
Foods rich in Vitamin D: salmon, sardines, egg yolk, shrimp, fortified milk (drink whole milk), yogurt (full fat)

Vitamin E – a powerful antioxidant, protects cell membranes from oxidation and combats free radicals in the body.  Supplementing Vitamin E is NOT necessary unless you have been diagnosed with a true deficiency.
Foods rich in Vitamin  E: spinach, almonds, sweet potatoes, pine nuts, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, avocado, peanuts, butternut squash, olive oil, wheat germ

Zinc – critical for development and function of immune cells and accelerates wound healing.  Plays a critical role in collagen synthesis, immune function, and inflammatory response.  Zinc is an essential player in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body.
Foods rich in Zinc: oysters, beef, oatmeal, mushrooms, chicken, hemp seeds, lentils, seeds, yogurt

Guest Blogger Nicole Printon holds certifications through WITs (personal training), ACE (Certified Health Coach with Behavior Change Specialty, and Group Fitness), and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Holistic Nutrition Therapy through Nutrition Therapy Institute.  She is completing her first 200 hour yoga teacher training mid May. She truly believes that fitness is the gateway to confidence, personal growth, and endless possibilities to live our most vibrant optimal lives. Nicole resides in Franklin Park with her 4 kids, 3 cats, and husband.

www.nicoleprinton.com

Toning Your Immune System

During this season of awareness of our immune systems, there are practices and suggestions quite helpful for keeping the immune system toned. Sharing some of the many:

1. Reduce and regulate your exposure to stress. Stress affects the entire body and weakens the immune system as well as the digestive system. This involves the way you process stressful events in life as well.

2. Evaluate your lifestyle. Eat and sleep well. Focus on foods that are anti-inflammatory. Manage time and don’t over book or over burden your life. Being well rested helps your immune system fight and repair. It also helps the liver do its job detoxifying. Check out the Love your Liver Workshop coming up in April at this link: http://feelthepeaceblog.lynsirota.com/about/

3. Keep hands clean and away from the face. Sanitizing is good, but it is possible to overdo this. We need good bacteria too.

4. There are many foods, spices, herbs, and supplements that help the immune system. One of my personal favorites is Black Elderberry Extract. You can find it in stores under the name Sambucus and online. Try looking for a brand that is organic with little to no sugar.

4. Stay tuned in to your body and what it needs. Cultivate balance in the body and in life by staying deeply connected through physical movement especially yoga. Balance the body/mind through meditation.

Always check with your medical professional if you are concerned about your immunity or if you are thinking of trying new herbs and/or supplements to ensure no contraindications.

Need a Little Kelp?

Kelp or seaweed is a rich source of minerals and vitamins. There are many types growing naturally in the ocean in thick forests. Marine life depends on it for their habitat and as a food source.

What most don’t realize is that it’s extremely healthy in our diet. It’s filled with calcium (plant based), vitamin K (not easy to find in most foods), vitamin A, vitamin B-12, iron, and magnesium. Seaweed is good for metabolism, eye health, bone health, and the immune system.

Kelp is great for the skin because it’s high in antioxidants. It’s an effective moisturizer and can help keep skin bright and clear. I’d been putting it in dog food as a supplement for my fur babies and now I’m grabbing some for myself.

*Note: As with anything dietary, please check with your physician first to ensure this is not contraindicated.

Try Something New

Now I can hear some saying, Ew. And what’s more, I know exactly who is rolling their eyes at me!

While browsing the yogurt section at Shoprite, I came across two new brands of yogurt I hadn’t heard of and this was one of them. I’m always looking for yogurt that has less sugar than what is typically available and non-dairy. This one was a surprise! Not only non-dairy, less sugar, but Golden Milk yogurt? For those of you not familiar with golden milk, it is a drink with turmeric that is great for insomnia and inflammation. The chia is packed with protein and omega. Having it for lunch is pretty great too. Added some blueberries and gluten-free coconut granola. Voila!

Fall in love…easy

With the best-ever creamy, rich, delicious chia pudding! Yes, that’s right. Not only is it packed flavor, but with protein, iron, fiber, and potassium too.  It can also be made with low or no sugar at all. By using the full fat coconut milk, you’re fueling your body and brain (your brain needs the fat).

Coconut Chia Seed Pudding (3-4 servings)

-8 oz + of full fat coconut milk

-2 TBSPs organic chia seeds

-2 TBSPs or less of agave or honey (optional; I used one)

In a large bowl, combine the 3 ingredients and stir well until all of the chia seeds are mixed with the coconut milk. Pour into a ball jar and leave in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight before eating. This mixture gets thicker each day. Serve over berries. You’re welcome 🙂

Just the Flax

By Guest Blogger: The Nourishing Gurus

Though it may seem trendy to add flax seeds to your daily regimen, these power-packed seeds deliver an amazing array of health benefits beyond a good dose of fiber, minerals, and healthy fat.

Flaxseeds, known for their anti-inflammatory properties, have been shown to contribute to bone health, cancer prevention, reduction of blood clots, stabilizing blood sugar, and reducing blood pressure and cholesterol. Studies on flax demonstrate that it helps detoxify harmful forms of estrogen, and is beneficial for reducing breast cancer risk.

Whole flax seeds will last longer than pre-ground flax, but they need to be ground in order to reap the benefits. Flax (whole or ground) should be stored in an airtight glass container in your refrigerator or freezer.

Flaxseed oil is especially perishable and should be purchased in opaque bottles that have been kept refrigerated. And because it is prone to oxidation, never use flaxseed oil in cooking. Instead, add it to foods after they have been heated.

Here are some great ways to add flax to your diet:

  • Sprinkle ground flax on hot or cold cereal
  • Add ground flax or flax oil to smoothies
  • Use flaxseed oil in place of other oils for salad dressings
  • Add ground flaxseeds to your homemade energy bars, muffins or pancakes
  • Sprinkle ground flax onto a slice of bread spread with peanut or almond butter

We suggest an intake of 1-2 tablespoons of ground flax/oil daily.

Energy Burst Bites
These travel well and are great for a quick on-the-go nutritious snack or healthy dessert. Makes about 16-20 bites. Serving size = 1-2

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup nut or seed butter
  • ¼ cup ground flax seeds
  • 1 cup fine coconut flakes
  • Sprinkle sea salt
  • Sprinkle cinnamon and/or ginger
  • Slivered almonds or pecan halves for topping (optional)

Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Mix all ingredients with a wooden spoon. May need to really work the “batter” to get uniform mixture and make sure it’s all combined.

Use your hands to “squish” and form about 1-inch round balls, pressing them flat once you put them onto the tray. Press a piece of slivered almond or half a pecan into the top of each piece (optional). Once they are firm, remove from tray and store in a glass container in your fridge or freezer.

BIO: Jane Schwartz RD and Stephanie Goodman CNC are The Nourishing Gurus. Jane and Stephanie help busy professional women create sustainable long-term healthy eating habits by eliminating diets, overwhelm, and kitchen chaos. Their 3-pronged approach, which can fit into any lifestyle, encompasses not only wholesome energizing foods, but powerful habit and mindset shifts.  YouTube  Instagram Twitter