Cool Chromium

Oat flakes in bowlA truly healthy lifestyle includes a wide variety of foods that provide a host of nutrients that are essential to life. I don’t like to value one nutrient above the other, what is important is variety and balance, but I do want to give you some more information on a few specific nutrients that many of us simply don’t get enough of. I also want to explain why they are important and how we can incorporate them into our healthy eating regimen easily. Let’s dive into nutrient #5: Chromium.

Chromium is a mineral that humans need in small amounts, and one we often don’t get enough of. It is an essential component in metabolism: it regulates blood sugar and aids insulin to transport glucose to our cells to be used for energy. It has also been shown to raise HDL, or “good”, cholesterol levels, and therefore may prevent against heart disease. In this country, we are more deficient in this mineral than in any other developed country; about 25-50% of us don’t get enough chromium. The reason for this is the American industrialized food supply has given us less exposure to chromium, which is found in the soil where our food grows, and refining and over-processing have eliminated nearly all the chromium from our foods. As we age, we become less able to absorb chromium, so the elderly are especially at risk for chromium deficiency. Without adequate amounts of chromium helping to manage our insulin sensitivity, we are more susceptible to developing chronic conditions like Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome. Even mild deficiency can result in poor blood sugar balance and symptoms of anxiety and fatigue.

The first approach to take for getting more chromium into your diet is to eat foods that you either grown yourself or purchase from your local farmer’s market. These foods come directly from the soil and haven’t endured a long trip on a truck or a bath of either hot water or toxic chemicals that remove these beneficial soil minerals. Foods highest in chromium include broccoli, gluten-free oats, green beans, tomatoes, raw onions, and Romaine lettuce.

If you are looking for a no-fuss breakfast that’s ready almost as soon as you get up, try these overnight oats for a super dose of chromium to start the day!

  1. In a mason jar, place ½ cup of gluten-free oats, then an optional sweetener (like raw honey or maple syrup), 1 Tbsp of chia seeds, and ½ cup of unsweetened almond or coconut milk.
  2. Cover and shake until all ingredients are combined, then put in the fridge overnight.
  3. In the morning, feel free to add some blueberries, extra seeds or nuts, nut butters, anything you like that will fuel you for the day ahead.

This is just a basic recipe. You can tailor this in any way you like to suit your dietary needs and tastes. If you’re a fan of Pinterest you’ll find lots of great takes on overnight oats there, so check it out if you’re inter

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Beautiful B5

A truly healthy lifestyle includes a wide variety of foods that provide a host of nutrients that are essential to life. I don’t like to value one nutrient above the other, what is important is variety and balance, but I do want to give you some more information on a few specific nutrients that many of us simply don’t get enough of. I also want to explain why they are important and how we can incorporate them into our healthy eating regimen easily. Let’s dive into nutrient #4: Vitamin B5.

B5 is, you might have guessed, part of the B vitamins group. The role of B vitamins in the body is to convert carbohydrates into glucose to produce energy. They also help the body use fat and protein, keep the nervous system functioning properly, and are essential for healthy skin, nails, and hair (you could say the B stands for Beauty!). B5 specifically is responsible for manufacturing red blood cells and the hormones produced in the adrenal glands, like cortisol and the sex hormones. When we don’t get enough B5, also called pantothenic acid, our adrenal glands actually shrink and we are less able to mitigate our stress levels. Our bodies also need this pantothenic acid to synthesize cholesterol, maintain a healthy digestive tract, and assist the body in absorbing other vitamins, like B2.

Our bodies do not store B5, so it is important to include a variety of food sources each day in order to get a good amount of this vitamin. Your best bets are avocados, sweet potatoes, shiitake mushrooms, lentils, green peas, chicken, turkey and broccoli. Here’s a great Whole30 recipe for Chicken Avocado burgers to get your started! Happy eating J

Makes: 4 patties

Ingredients

  • 1 pound organic ground chicken
  • 1 large ripe avocado – cut into chunks
  • 1 chopped clove of garlic
  • ⅓ cup Panko crumbs or Almond meal (to keep it Paleo-friendly)
  • 1 minced Poblano or Jalapeño pepper (optional but recommended)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and toss. Choose a firmer avocado and toss gently to keep the chunks intact.
  2. Shape into patties of whatever size you prefer and grill, either on a grill pan or on your outdoor grill.
  3. These will keep for several days in the fridge, or you can wrap each patty individually and place in a Ziploc bag for freezing.
  4. Serve with a side salad, or maybe some sweet potato “fries” and enjoy!avocado
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Zesty Zinc!

A truly healthy lifestyle includes a wide variety of foods that provide a host of nutrients that are essential to life. I don’t like to value one nutrient above the other, what is important is variety and balance, but I do want to give you some more information on a few specific nutrients that many of us simply don’t get enough of. I also want to explain why they are important and how we can incorporate them into our healthy eating regimen easily. Let’s dive into nutrient #3: Zinc.

Zinc is a trace mineral that is often overlooked in the diet, unless you feel like you’re coming down with a cold. We tend to only hear zinc, and often Vitamin C as well, come up in conversation when we want to stave off cold and flu symptoms. Zinc can be an effective cold remedy because it increases your body’s production of white blood cells, the ones responsible for fighting infection. However, it is important to get small doses of zinc every day to strengthen your immune system, maintain your mood and mental clarity, keep your gut health in check, keep your senses of taste and smell functioning properly, and much more. Additionally, zinc is needed for the conversion of glucose (sugar) into energy within your cells. Without zinc, this chemical reaction could not take place and you could suffer from symptoms of insulin resistance, poor concentration/memory, chronic fatigue syndrome, digestive problems, low immunity, and other serious issues that will certainly dampen your quality of life.

A diet high in processed foods yields no zinc benefit, so the focus must be one whole, real foods in order to get this essential mineral. Animal products are the richest sources of zinc, and the highest sources are oysters (at up to 182mg per 100g!), grass-fed beef, king crab, and lamb. As you will notice here, high protein foods contain the highest amount of naturally occurring zinc because protein helps our bodies absorb it more readily. If you are looking for vegetarian options, there are a few but they serve up zinc in much lower amounts: mushrooms, chickpeas, roasted pumpkin seeds, tahini (ground sesame seeds), cashews, and almonds. One thing to be aware of, however, is that a diet high in un-soaked/un-sprouted grains and legumes can interfere with zinc absorption, so be sure to soak/sprout your grains and legumes to remove that phytic acid inhibitor.

If you think you may be deficient in zinc, speak with your doctor or holistic practitioner about potentially taking a supplement.

Happy snacking!oyster

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Super Selenium

brazil-nutsA truly healthy lifestyle includes a wide variety of foods that provide a host of nutrients that are essential to life. I don’t like to value one nutrient above the other, what is important is variety and balance, but I do want to give you some more information on a few specific nutrients that many of us simply don’t get enough of. I also want to explain why they are important and how we can incorporate them into our healthy eating regimen easily. Let’s dive into nutrient #2: Selenium.

Selenium is a chemical element that is commercially produced as a byproduct in refining metal ores, often for making glass and pigments. You may be thinking, why would I need something like that in my diet? As a mineral it can be toxic in very large amounts, but small amounts are necessary for cellular functions: it protects cells against oxidative damage, repairs damaged cells, and are involved in thyroid hormone regulation.

I will continue to discuss the importance of these nutrients on the adrenal glands because, again, this time of year can be very stressful and these glands can get overworked and eventually become exhausted if we are not careful. Selenium protects the adrenals from free radical damage (the reactive intermediates that are released when our body attempts to detoxify itself) and helps with the formation and elimination of cortisol.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to gnaw on metal to get the benefits of this essential mineral. The richest food source of selenium is Brazil nuts and you only need 1 per day to meet your daily requirement of 200-400mcgs. Remember it can be toxic in large amounts, so take care not to exceed this recommended amount and avoid having any more than 10 Brazil nuts in one week. Some selenium can also be found in brown rice, chia seeds, and mushrooms.

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Valuable Vitamin C

KiwiA truly healthy lifestyle includes a wide variety of foods that provide a host of nutrients that are essential to life. I don’t like to value one nutrient above the other, what is important is variety and balance, but I do want to highlight a few specific nutrients that many of us simply don’t get enough of. I also want to explain why they are important and how we can incorporate them into our healthy eating regimen easily. Join me as we dive into our first chapter: Vitamin C!

We know that Vitamin C is important for boosting our immune function, meaning if we want to prevent illnesses (like cold and flu), a healthy dose of this vitamin is crucial. Additionally, Vitamin C is essential for your adrenal health because the adrenal glands contain more Vitamin C than any other part of your body. We need to nourish our adrenal glands well because they are responsible for regulating our stress response and without fully functioning adrenals we lose the ability to effectively recover from stress, potentially leading us to suffer from chronic stress and all the awful things that come along with that (disturbed sleep, anxiety, slow metabolism, high blood pressure, and lots more!).

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and can be very helpful in removing toxins from the body. One simple thing you can add to your routine today is a cup of warm water with fresh lemon in the morning, it will help fuel your detoxification fire and give your immune system and metabolism a jump start for the day.

Vitamin C is fat-soluble, which means it will be absorbed more readily into the body when accompanied by a healthy fat source. If you are enjoying a spinach salad with strawberries (both great sources of Vitamin C), be sure to enjoy it with some avocado or a dressing made from olive oil to get all the health benefits.

You may think simply taking a supplement will provide you will all the Vitamin C your body needs; however, even though food sources have much lower amounts of the vitamin than the supplement, the food sources are much more powerful. Bioflavinoids exist in the food sources of this vitamin that help it perform its tasks within the body more effectively. Plus, when you eat a whole food, like spinach, you’re not only getting some good quality Vitamin C, but also plenty of iron, magnesium, calcium, fiber, and potassium.

Some other great food sources of Vitamin C include bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kiwi fruit, and cauliflower, which I’ve included in a recipe for you below. I hope you enjoy!

Vegan Cauliflower Soup

Courtesy of Healthy Blend Recipes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 2 cups (200g) thinly sliced leeks (white parts only)
  • 1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 large head cauliflower, chopped
  • 7 cups (1.65l) vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup (35g) raw unsalted cashews or 1/4 cup (35g) blanched slivered almonds
  • 3 tablespoons chopped chives, to serve

Directions

  • In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the garlic, leeks, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt for about 3 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add the cauliflower and sauté for another minute.
  • Add the vegetable broth, increase the heat to high, and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the cauliflower is completely tender.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the soup to cool slightly; stir in the nuts.
  • Pour the soup into your blender in batches and blast on high for about 1 minute, until smooth and creamy.
  • Return the soup to the saucepan and warm it over low heat. Stir in salt to taste.
  • To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with either chopped chives or grated nutmeg.
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Bake Santa (and yourself) a Healthier Cookie

The holidays bring with it plenty of goodies to savor and share, but I must say that my favorite treat to enjoy has to be cookies. Even though we can eat cookies any time of year, I think they taste so much better during the holidays! Unfortunately, we know that, typically, cookies are made with pretty un-merry ingredients: refined sugar, refined flour, loads of butter, partially hydrogenated oils, and potentially dangerous dyes and colorings. While this can be devastating news to anyone who enjoys a cookie or two this time of year, there is a solution. What if I told you there are plenty of recipes you can find that will help you bake without using any of those toxic ingredients, but instead are loaded with healthier alternatives, some of which can even give you a boost of nutrition? I’m sold!

One of my favorite cookies to eat is gingerbread; that warm, spicy flavor just screams Happy Holidays! I wanted to find an alternative recipe to try this year for a cookie swap party I’m attending, and I’m glad to say I’ve found the perfect one. The cookies come out big and soft and go beautifully with a hot cup of tea. I’ve attached the recipe below (courtesy of Running With Spoons), but first I want to point out some of the great health benefits baked right into these treats.

cookie-ingredients

Blackstrap molasses is made from cane sugar, but the repeated boiling process it goes through gives it the lowest sugar content of any sugar cane product. What’s amazing is that unlike refined sugar with has zero nutritional value (and can actually strip nutrients from your body), blackstrap molasses contains vital minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, potassium, and selenium. *As always, if you have diabetes or insulin resistance, you should avoid ALL sugar, even this kind.

Coconut oil is used as a replacement for butter in this recipe, making it a great solution if you are baking a vegan-friendly cookie. 85% of fats in coconut oil are medium chain fatty acids, which are easy for the body to burn as fuel for energy, and they have anticandida properties (prevent the overgrowth of yeast in the gut). These healthy fats also raise your HDL cholesterol (the “good” kind) and lower LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind).

Coconut sugar contains inulin, a fiber that can slow glucose absorption, giving it a lower glycemic index than table sugar. Although it is still something to be used quite sparingly, this may be a good substitute for white sugar and many of your recipes that call for it. *If you’d prefer a less-sweet cookie, you may omit the sugar, or reduce it by half.

Ginger is a powerful little root that can ease symptoms of nausea and indigestion, reduce muscle soreness, reduce arthritis pain due to its anti-inflammatory properties, and protect the brain through its antioxidant properties.

Cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation and provide antioxidants to the body, and improve digestion. Be sure to get Ceylon cinnamon, which unlike the more common variety, Cassia, has a much lower presence of a chemical called coumarin. Coumarin is a natural plant chemical that is a blood thinner and has been shown to be toxic to the liver and kidneys.

Almond and coconut flour are excellent refined flour replacements and suitable for anyone following a gluten-free lifestyle. Almond flour is high in protein, fiber, and minerals, and is best when sprouted. Coconut flour high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats, and it has more fiber and fewer carbohydrates than wheat flour.

I am excited to share these cookies with my friends at the cookie swap this weekend, and I hope you will make up a batch and share with your loved ones as well! It is more important than ever to share the information you have learned through this program to give others a chance to experience how to live a healthy lifestyle and how rewarding it can be. Be a living example and give the gift of your health knowledge to those you love this year. Happy Holidays!

Link to the recipe: Flourless Gingerbread Cookies

gingerbread-cookies

What is your favorite alternative cookie recipe? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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What is an Anti-inflammatory Diet?

What is an Anti-Inflammatory Diet?

We all know that inflammation is key in the body’s natural healing response, bringing nourishment and immune activity the site of an injury or illness. You’ll notice this anytime you get a scab after a cut, or swelling after twisting your ankle. But inflammation persists or doesn’t have a purpose to serve, it can damage the body and actually cause illness, a condition that we call chronic inflammation. We have learned that chronic inflammation is the root cause for many serious illnesses, such as heart disease, many cancers, and Alzheimer’s disease. Stress, lack of exercise, genetic predisposition, and toxic exposure can all contribute to too much inflammation in the body, but our dietary choices play a very large role as well. Learning how specific foods affect inflammation is the best strategy for reducing and containing your disease risk, as well as reducing symptoms of pain and discomfort.

In general, an anti-inflammatory diet consists of a variety of fresh, whole foods, while completely avoiding any processed or fast foods. Here are a few more specific guidelines to get you started:

  1.  Eat at least nine servings of vegetables a day- a serving equals a half a cup cooked, one full cup raw vegetables
  2.  Incorporate healing herbs and spices in to your diet, like turmeric, ginger, and garlic.
  3.  Consume foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, like flaxseeds, walnuts, and wild-caught salmon
  4.  Avoid refined sugars and artificial sweeteners, opt for fresh fruit as an occasional treat
  5. Cut out trans fats- avoid anything that says “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated oils” on the label (that includes vegetable oils, like canola and safflower)

If you would like more information or guidance on how to follow an anti-inflammatory diet, or if you’d be interested in speaking with a Certified Holistic Health Coach for any of your personal wellness concerns, set up a FREE consultation with Ashleigh today by calling 407-927-2145 or emailing ashleigh@agcorehealth.com.veggies

Your health is in your hands, take charge today!

 

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