Friday, July 31, 2015

In the Kitchen: Strawberry, Mint & Collard Greens

My new health plans says to have one green juice or green smoothie daily and I've been a bit shit about this one. The first two weeks I was all gung ho, downing semi-tasty smoothies in the morning and and then I got lazy. I'm now back on track and I WILL have green smoothies for breakfast moving forward. There's something positive and motivating in statements like "I will" as oppose to "I'll try." It yields better results and eventually I'll become one of those moody bitches if I don't get my green juice. That's my goal!

Dark leafy greens are at the top of the list of alkalizing foods, which is perhaps why they are the most potent superfood. However, we're terrible about eating volumes that pack a punch on a daily basis and this was definitely a weak area for me. Leafy greens are dull on their own, they require a good rinse plus pat dry, and they go off quickly! The great thing about green smoothies is the convenience, I like that I can just wash the leaves and whack them straight into my bullet blender. Plus the added fiber from the intact greens, as oppose to extracted juice, is great for colon health. 

I've been playing around with lots of different greens, herbs and fruit and finally found a low-sugar smoothie that I actually look forward to. Makes one meal serving or two snacks.

2 large raw collard green leaves • 500ml unsweetened natural coconut water • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves • 1/3 raw cucumber, chopped • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries • 2 tbsp flaxseeds • 1 tbsp organic coconut oil

Put all the ingredients into a blender and blitz until smooth. The frozen strawberries with fresh mint are so refreshing and the coconut water is hydrating because it contains electrolytes like sodium, magnesium, calcium and potassium. Since eating low-carb, I've been adding more fats into my diet like healthy coconut oil. Sometimes I'll eat a tablespoon straight or add it my smoothies like this one. It's absolutely delicious especially when you get a little chunk! The flaxseeds add a boost of omega-3 fats and fiber, which comes in handy with low-carb health plans. 

Strawberry, mint & collard greens is a bit high in natural sugars, but I like to have it as a breakfast/pre-workout meal because of the carbohydrates. With diabetes I have to be mindful not only of the quality of my carbs and the amount, but timing as well. When exercising it's good to have carbs before and after your workout, so the sugars from the coconut water and strawberries actually help me build muscle. Yes!

Nutritional Breakdown
Calories 376 • Carbs 45g • Dietary Fiber 9g • Protein 6g • Fat 21g 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Gettin' Over the Hump: Calorie Restriction

The other day I was having lunch at work and a girl from another department sat across from me. She looked like she was in her 20s and was overweight. As she got up to get something to drink, her plate of food caught my eye. She had a couple spoonfuls of rice, 3 small fried chicken tenders each with big dollops of ketchup and a massive chunk of cream cheese. Initially what grabbed my attention was the unhealthiness of it all, but then I realized how little food there was. It was a meal for a 7-year old child, but not enough to satisfy an adult woman. It was sad. Not only did it lack the kind of nourishment required to power an eight-hour shift on your feet, but she was clearly dieting and going about it the wrong way. 

Calorie restriction is when you eat less calories than what your body requires to properly function. As women I feel we've all had those moments where we're desperate to shed a few pounds, especially if there's something important coming up like a holiday in Mexico or your wedding. That was the last time I restricted calories and it was because I wasn't happy with the way my dress fit and I knew shedding a few pounds would do the trick. Prior to that I occasionally got into terrible cycles where I yo-yoed. Are you familiar with this scenario (I know I am): 

You start drastically cutting down on calories, skipping meals here and there and bam! Weight comes off. You have this aha, yes moment! Then cravings kick in HARD because you're starving. You think you can manage sneaking in a few bad habits without putting the weight back on. Weight gained back (and then some), game over. You attack a pizza pie and the bag of Oreos because it doesn't matter now and we can always start again tomorrow.

Under-nourishing ourselves may deliver quick results, but it reeks havoc on our bodies ladies and here's why:

When you restrict your calories, you train your body to hold onto body fat.

Dieting or calorie restricting kills your metabolism, which is the rate at which your body burns calories.

You will probably gain more weight with diet restriction and here's why

For some, extreme calorie restriction can evolve into eating disorders like anorexia.

If you want to lose weight, you will find long-lasting success and better health by focusing on what you put in because a calorie is not just a calorie.

[photo taken back in 2011 and yes that was my "meal"]

Monday, July 13, 2015

Sweeet Tropical Chia Seed Pudding

Last week I introduced the low-sugar diet the doc put me on in order to kick my diabetes' ass and I've been experimenting with new breakfast ideas, because my go-to for the past year has either been epic fruit salads or fruit smoothies. Now I'm only allowed to have one fruit serving per day and that does not a breakfast make.

Lately I've been alternating all-vegetable green smoothies with chia seed pudding and it's becoming a breakfast staple. We've all heard how wonderful chia seeds are, but what I was surprised to learn is that these little guys are filled with 2x more protein than most grains and 5x more calcium than milk, they have 8x more Omega-3 fatty acids than salmon and if prepared properly, the high fiber content will make you poop!

So here's what I've been making as of late, a sweeet tropical chia seed pudding that's gluten-free, sugar-free and vegan. Makes 2 servings

1/3 cup chia seeds • 1 cup of unsweetened cashew milk • 2 cups of water • 2 tbs of unsweetened coconut flakes • 1 tsp vanilla extract • 2 tbs raw almonds slivers •  1 diced kiwi fruit

Combine the cashew milk and water in a storage container and stir in the seeds. I used cashew milk because it's gluten-free, unsweetened and low-carb, but any unsweetened nut or coconut milk would be awesome in this recipe. Avoid rice, oat or soy milks if you are on a low-sugar, anti-inflammatory diet like me. Once the chia seeds are in they will sink and clump together so stir them continuously for a few minutes until they break up and float around evenly. Mix in the coconut flakes and vanilla extract. From here you can either store the chia pudding overnight or wait 15 minutes for the little seeds to get all jelly-like and pudding up. Pour half of your pudding into a pretty bowl, top with almonds and kiwi and voila! 

I'm really enjoying this pudding and the creamy cashew milk and vanilla extract add a hint of natural sweetness. The tart kiwi worked really well, but any low-glycemic fruits will work great. 

Nutritional breakdown per serving
Calories 427 • Carbs 35g • Dietary Fiber 20g • Protein 16g • Fat 32g
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