Non-dairy Fruit Smoothie

_MG_1778I’ve been enjoying a wonderful smoothie almost every morning for a couple of years now, and it occurred to me that this might be a great recipe to share with others.  It’s my own recipe, based on advice from a nutritionist and my own experimentation.

This smoothie is so simple and tastes great.  A perfect way to start the morning, especially if, like me, you don’t want to have a heavy breakfast but know you should eat something.

Get at least 3 servings of fruit, more than 4g of protein, 1130 mg potassium, and 13g fiber in each smoothie!  And at about 500 calories per smoothie, this is a smoothie that will hold you over until you have a sensible lunch.  Research shows that a breakfasts of 400-500 calories  and extra protein make it easier to stick to a diet.(1)

Avocado? In a smoothie?  The avocado does a nice job of balancing out the sweetness of all the fruit.  It’s also the ingredient that makes the smoothie so creamy, in place of yogurt or other thickeners.  Avocados are also an excellent source of protein, helping make this smoothie more of a meal than a fruit drink.

Juicing is very popular right now, and there are advantages and disadvantage to juicing vs. whole blending.  With this recipe, I like getting the benefits of the entire fruit, fiber and nutrients combined.  Like most everything in life, it’s best to either juice or blend in moderation.  Neither method can make up an entire diet and be healthy. For some helpful information on juicing vs. blending, read these articles:

http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/juicing-vs-blending-which-one-is-better

http://www.healthyhand.com/juicing-vs-blending/

http://www.drsearswellnessinstitute.org/blog/2012/04/12/juicing-vs-blending/

But now on to the recipe!  Here’s how I make mine – amounts are approximate.  Experiment with your own frozen or fresh fruits.  Sometimes if I’m out of avocado I’ll add spinach or kale for that green kick.  Enjoy!

1-2 C Blue Diamond Unsweetened Almond Milk: 1C (100 g) = 40 calories, 1g fat, 1g carb, 0g cholesterol, 0g sugar

1 med banana = 105 calories, go fat, 21g fat, 27g carb, 0g cholesterol, 14g sugar

1/2 avocado = 113 cal, 12g carb, 0g cholesterol, 0g sugar

3/4 C frozen peaches 3/4 c = 50 cal, 0g fat, 13g carb, 0g cholesterol, 10g sugar

3/4 C frozen mixed berries 1c = 80 cal, 0 fat, 0g cholesterol, 21g carb, 9g sugar

1.  No More Excuses: Breakfast Recipes for Every Morning, http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/quick-recipes/breakfast/no-more-excuses-breakfast-recipes-for-every-morning/
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Seven ways to get more super-healing turmeric in your diet

I love learning about new superfoods that have anti-inflammatory benefits.  Here is an article (based on information from several sources) I found about Turmeric and easy ways to add it to your diet.  I’m going to try it out!

 Seven ways to get more super-healing turmeric in your diet.

Tomato-less, Potato-less Beef Stew

One of the most inconvenient things about changing to an anti-inflammatory diet a couple of years ago is not being able to enjoy the chili, soups, and other delicious tomato-based, potato-ful comfort foods my family enjoys during the fall and winter.  It’s not fair to the rest of the family to eliminate those favorite dishes from their diet too.  Tonight, feeling creative and not really wanting to make two different dinners, my husband and I decided to create a stew that I could eat; no tomatoes, potatoes, peppers.  Luckily, I had the presence of mind to write it down so I can share it with you.  It was so tasty, we will be adding it to our regular comfort food repertoire!

A word about ingredients used: We used pearled barley, so this is not a gluten-free recipe.  This makes a large batch in the crockpot.  I’m all about freezing leftovers for quick meals later on.  I used veggies we had from our garden, except for the green beans.  I think using what you have on hand that’s fresh is the way to go…have fun experimenting!

 Tomato-less, Potato-less Beef Stew

Image

1/2 c flour

Olive oil to coat skillet

1 1/2 lbs. beef stew meat

5 1/2 c beef broth

2 small white onions, chopped

2 c (1/2 small) butternut squash, diced into 1” pieces

1/2 c celery, chopped

12 oz. frozen green beans

1T minced garlic

3 carrots, sliced into coins

1c pearled barley, uncooked

2 bay leaves

1 1/2 t thyme

1 t fennel seeds

1/2 t coriander

  1. Place flour and stew meat in gallon ziploc bag.  Shake to coat, adding more flour if necessary.
  2. Add stew meat to lightly oiled non-stick skillet and brown. Remove from skillet and add to crockpot.
  3. Add remaining ingredients to crockpot.  Cook 3-6 hours.  Before serving, remove bay leaves and salt and pepper to taste.

I hope you enjoy this stew as much as we did, my first time publishing my own recipe!  We loved how the squash and barley made the stew creamy and rich.  No one missed the tomatoes or potatoes. The spices added just the right amount of highlight to make all the flavors come together.

If you make my stew, please come back and comment.  I’d love to know if you liked it, tried substitutions, etc.

Natural Hydration

One of the most crucial parts of any kind of intensive workout is hydration.  But sometimes water just isn’t enough, and most sports drinks are full of sugar, food colorings, and other yucky additives.  Are there any healthy alternatives you ask?  Why yes, in fact, let me introduce you to the wonders of…

COCONUT WATER

Coconut water?  When I tell people about my new favorite hydration drink, I get a lot of reactions.  I get; “really?”, or “yuck!”, or maybe “I’ll have to try that”.  My two riding friends have even made faces at the very mention of it.  Some people like the flavor, some people don’t.  But I’d like to tell you more about it and why I love it.

Coconut water is chock full of potassium, to begin with.  According to the Vita Coco website, which is a brand that I frequently purchase at my favorite grocery store, an 8.5 fl oz. container of coconut water contains 1030mg of potassium1!  By comparison, a banana has roughly 300mg.2 According to a fact sheet I found through the Colorado State University Extension, potassium helps regulate the balance of water in the body.  “Low potassium can cause muscle cramping and cardiovascular irregularities”.2 That sounds a little scary!  But anyone who has been on a day-long ride in the heat will tell you how energizing it is to eat bananas along with other healthy snack choices like nuts, pretzels, (protein and sodium) and other fruits.  Coconut water is also full of electrolytes, but it has a low sodium content.  So if you’re losing a lot of body water via perspiration, it’s important that you’re also replacing that lost sodium3.

There are all kinds of claims on the internet about the wonders of coconut water.  Apparently a lot of celebrities are all drinking it now too; it’s become a trend.  It supposedly cures Diabetes, some cancers, the list goes on.  Personally, I’ve yet to run across any product – natural or man-made –  that’s a miracle cure.  Here’s what I do know:  Coconut water is natural.  In my quest to clean up my diet and eat/drink simpler, more

whole foods, coconut water beats manufactured sports drinks by a mile.  There are no additives of any kind.  Several brands offer flavor varieties, which consists of coconut water plus fruit puree like mango, peach, or tangerine, for example.  Our bodies know exactly what how to process ingredients like that! To further prove my point, read these ingredients lists:

Vita Coco Coconut water ingredients: Coconut water, Ascorbic Acid (vitamin C)1

Gatorade ingredients: Filtered water, Brominated Vegetable Oil, Sucralose, High Fructose Corn Syrup (gasp!!), Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, Salt, Sodium Citrate, Monopotassium Phosphate, Glycerol Ester of Wood Rosin (huh??), and artificial colors.4

Tell me now, which would you rather put in your body?

If you want to find coconut water at your grocery store, you’ll most likely run into it in the juice aisle.  Look for it on the top shelf.

Cheers!

1   Vita Coco, 2010.  Nutritional Facts. Retrieved Feb. 18, 2011 from: http://vitacoco.com/wp-content/themes/VitaCocoH5/nutrition-info/pure-nutrition.pdf

2   J. Anderson, L. Young, M.S.,  E. Long, 12/92. Revised 8/08.  Potassium and Health.  Colorado State University Extension.  Retrieved Feb. 18, 2011 from: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09355.html

3   J. Helm, 6/14/10. Health Watch: Going Coconuts. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved Feb 18, 2011 from:http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-07-14/entertainment/sc-food-0709-health-coconut-20100709_1_coconut-oil-coconut-water-sports-drinks

4   S. Buckines, 12/09/09. List of Ingredients in Gatorade. Livestrong.com. Retrieved Feb. 18, 2011, from http://www.livestrong.com/article/43161-list-ingredients-gatorade/

Inflammation 101

This posting begins what I hope will be a series of short articles about the new things I’m learning regarding nutrition since my injury (see Injury) When I was seeking help for my back problems, I had no idea that my healing process would so radically involve my diet.  The very first thing I learned from my chiropractor/nutritionist was that inflammation was most likely a large cause of my arthritis and degenerative disc pain in my back.  This was earth-shattering news to me.  I had to find out more.

Inflammation is something that occurs in everyone’s body- it’s our body’s response to injury, infection, and irritation.  “Acute inflammation is needed to help heal acute trauma, abrasions, broken bones, or acute invasion of a foreign substance…The body reacts immediately to acute trauma by increasing substances in the body that stimulate swelling, redness, pain, and heat.” (Black, 2006, p.12)  The problem begins when inflammation becomes chronic.  Chronic inflammation, which may have a variety of causes, actually harms tissues and cells by continually “attacking” them and breaking them down, even if no infection or acute trauma exists.  Continued research is now showing that chronic inflammation is associated with many diseases including diabetes, bronchitis and asthma (something else I have!).  In fact,  “any disease ending in ‘itis’ refers to an inflammatory condition.” (Appleton, 2005, p.5).  Anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly used to treat such pain.  Most of us are familiar with or have used NSAIDs such as Aleve, Motrin, or Tylenol.  These drugs treat the symptoms and relieve pain, but they do not eliminate the source of the pain, which should be our ultimate goal.  For more than a year, I had been taking a prescription NSAID to ease my arthritis back pain, thinking I was doing a good thing for my body.  In fact, by not treating the cause of my back pain and only treating the symptom, I was only masking the problem.  The first and easiest thing I needed to do to treat the inflammation in my body was to change my diet.  One of the primary changes I was about to learn was the necessity of eliminating the consumption of nightshades.

Nightshades?  I had never heard this term before. Nightshade vegetables are part of the Solanaceae family of flowering plants, some of which can be toxic.  I was surprised to learn that two of my very favorite vegetables- and vegetables that are found in a large array of foods- might actually be causing me harm.  These nightshade vegetables produce alkaloids such as solanine, which causes inflammation when not digested in the intestine (Appleton, 2005, p.117).  Research has shown that removal of these veggies can reduce inflammation and thereby promote healing.  These vegetables include:

  • potatoes
  • tomatoes
  • eggplant
  • red and green peppers
  • hot peppers
  • paprika
  • pimiento

So with a sad sigh, I bid adieu to potato chips, freshly sliced tomatoes in a light vinaigrette, and salsa, among other favorites.  The Great Experiment was about to begin.
I wasn’t sure if this tactic would really work- after all, I was still recovering from my injury and still had pain every day.  A couple of months later, I happened to eat some guacamole which contained chunks of tomatoes.  I thought it would be OK, since the amount of tomatoes was small.  But  several hours later, I found myself on the throne with a gassy case of diarrhea, and the tomatoes expelled completely undigested.  Sorry for the details, but it was my body’s way of saying “do not even put that in me again!”  A few weeks later, while on a bike tour, I was faced with eating a breakfast egg casserole made with hash browns.  I hadn’t eaten any potatoes in such a long time, and there were no other options for breakfast.  I ate the casserole, and by evening I was in such pain that I broke down and took 800mg of Motrin for relief.  The pain subsided, but remained mildly and persistently present for a couple of days afterward.  Why did these foods affect me now, when I was eating them all the time before I got hurt with no obvious effect?

The answer is, as I’ve cleaned up my diet, my body is healing in ways that it couldn’t before.  So ingesting these foods that actually have been “toxic” to me all along are more easily identifiable now.  The lack of nightshades are only one way my diet is different now.  As I continue to read, learn, and monitor my food intake, I’m finding other foods I am sensitive to.  More on those foods and ingredients in my next post.

If you have an inflammatory condition, I recommend trying to eliminate nightshades from your diet.  There is no guarantee it will work, but give it a couple of weeks and see if you notice a difference.  You’ve got nothing to lose.

Appleton, N., PhD. (2005).  Stopping Inflammation: Relieving the Cause of Degenerative Diseases.  Garden City Park, NY: Square One Publishers.

Black, J., N.D. (2006).  The Anti-Inflammation Diet and Recipe Book.  Alameda, CA: Hunter House Books.