Tag Archives: healthy eating

Stuck in a Food Rut? Healthy Options to Get Unstuck

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces — just good food from fresh ingredients.”
– Julia Child

Point to Ponder:
Are you stuck in a food rut?

Action Item:
Consider juicing and/or trying some of the *new* recipes below.

 

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Last Tuesday at the member lunch at Abel’s on the Lake, “the Lisa’s” (Lisa Hildebrand and Lisa Joseph) inspired me to get a juicer. I’ve been wanting one for a while, but just haven’t made it a priority.  After hearing how easy and delicious it is to juice, and needing to find something *new* to try in July, I thought it was time to get my juice on.

Per their recommendation, I set out to purchase a Hurom- Premium Slow Juicer and Smoothie Maker. My first stop was Bed Bath & Beyond, but they were out of stock. So, I ventured into William Sonoma where they had plenty and they were on sale, too! Like a good food processor or Vitamix blender, the Hurom Juicer is not a cheap machine, but if used enough you will quickly get your money out of it. Plus, I’ve gotten terrible at eating vegetables simply because of the prep time, and if it weren’t for the simplicity that my Vitamix provides which quickly enables me to make my favorite fruit & protein smoothie, I wouldn’t eat enough fruit either. And so, getting the juicer is an investment in mine and my family’s health.

I was also pumped because the juicer inspired me to grab some organic and seasonal veggies that I do like, but always bypass out of intimidation and convenience. For example, I like beets but they stain everything red, take time to peal, chop, and I never know what to pair them with. Others I run into issues with are cucumber, carrots and celery. I know they are really good for me but they don’t excite me. So, I filled my grocery cart up with grapes, kale, spinach, beets, lemon, pineapple, carrots, tomatoes, and celery, and couldn’t wait to get home to see what I could come up with. Here are the two juices I made:

 

Veggie Combo (my random creation)

Veggie Combo Juice & Grape Juice

  • 1 c Packed Spinach
  • 1 Beet
  • 2 Carrots
  • 2 Celery Stalk
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 1/2 Cucumber
  • 1/3 c Pineapple (this adds a touch of sweet)

Grape Juice

  • 2 c  Grapes

I’ve gotta tell you, I’m fascinated with the juicing process – it is so simple and cool! As for how the drinks tasted, the ‘Veggie Combo’ was good enough and I’ll definitely make it again. The grape juice was delicious and both of my children lapped it up. Malaine (14 months) will eat and drink anything…so she was easy. Durant (3 1/2 yrs) is ridiculously picky so I told him it was Gatorade (a real treat for him) and he drank it all. SUCCESS!

Really, I’m not writing this journal to convince you to purchase a juicer. Instead, because I am not a creative cook, I don’t enjoy cooking, I find myself in a food rut all of the time, and it’s Give It a Try in July time, I thought it would be a good opportunity to share some of my healthy, convenient and delicious summer go-to’s that might be *new* to you and might even help you get out of a food rut as well.

So on that note, here are a couple more of my faves:

Summer Potato Salad

Summer Potato Salad

by Chef Martha Pincoffs, creator of the Hot Dang Grain Burger (a healthy and convenient favorite)

  • 2 lbs Red potatoes, quartered and slightly boiled
  • 1 Small red onion, chopped
  • cooked green beans, cut in half
  • 1/2 c Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4 c Olive oil
  • Pinch of sea salt

Combine all and enjoy!

Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 2/3 c Olive Oil
  • 1/3 c Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 T Honey

– Combine all, simmer on med/high heat
– Stir with wisk, remove from heat and toss on any salad

Watermelon Herb Salad

by  Chef Scott Tompkins

  • 1 fresh watermelon, cubed
  • 2 T fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 2 T fresh basil, finely chopped

Combine all and let marinade for 30 min.  Eat right away

 

In the event you have a juicer, are wanting to begin juicing, or are in need of *new* recipes, iGnite member and health coach Lisa Hildebrand shares these two amazingly healthy and refreshing juices:

Classic Green Juice

  • 1 bunch spinach or kale
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 6-9 celery stalks
  • 1 bunch parsley or cilantro
  • 1 bunch of mint
  • 1 to 2 green apples
  • Ginger (about 1 thumb’s worth)
  • 1/2 lemon or lime

Love My Liver Juice

  • 2-3 beets
  • 4-6 carrots
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 6-9 celery stalks
  • 1 inch of ginger
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 bunch of mint

For even MORE healthy meal inspiration, check out our leadership team’s go-to, healthy summer dinners.

Besides the convenience, what excites me most about juicing is its health benefits. My personal belief is that food truly has the power to heal our bodies and most of what we need comes from the Earth. But because of convenience, I have not been nourishing my body with all that it needs to live and perform optimally. My favorite reminder about the amazing and intentional creation of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes comes from a book called Breakthrough: Eight Steps to Wellness by Suzanne Somers. Check out this fascinating excerpt:

A sliced carrot looks like the human eye. The pupil, iris, and radiating lines look just like the human eye… and science shows that carrots greatly enhance blood flow to and function to the eyes.

A tomato has four chambers and is red. The heart is red and has four chambers. All of the research shows that tomatoes are indeed pure heart and blood food.

Grapes hang in a cluster that has the shape of a heart. Each grape looks like a blood cell, and all of the research today shows that grapes are also profound heart-and blood vitalizing food.

A walnut looks like a little brain, a left and right hemisphere, upper cerebrums and lower cerebellums. Even the wrinkles or folds of the nut are just like the neocortex. We now know that walnuts help develop over three dozen neurotransmitters for brain function.

Kidney beans actually help heal and help maintain kidney function, and yes, they look exactly like the human kidney.

Celery, bok choy, and rhubarb, look just like bones. These foods specifically target bone strength. Bones are 23 percent sodium and these foods are 23 percent sodium. If you don’t have enough sodium in your diet the body pulls it from the bones, making them weak. These foods replenish the skeletal needs of the body.

Eggplant, avocados and pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of a female-they look just like these organs. Today’s research shows that when a woman eats one avocado a week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted baby weight and prevents cervical cancers. And how profound is this? ...It takes exactly nine months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit.

Figs are full of seeds and hang in twos when they grow. Figs increase the motility of male sperm and increase the numbers of sperm as well as to overcome male sterility.

Sweet potatoes look like the pancreas and actually balance the glycemic index of diabetes.

Olives assist the health function of the ovaries.

Grapefruits, oranges, and other citrus fruits look like the mammary glands of the female and actually assist the health of the breasts and the movement of lymph in and out of the breasts.

Onions look like the body cells. Today’s research shows that onions help clear waste materials from all of the body cells; they even produce tears which wash the epithelial layers of the eyes.

Enjoy branching out and trying new ways to spruce up your food!

 

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The Food & Confidence Connection

Almond-Berry-and-Chicken-Spinach-Salad-with-a-delicious-and-easy-dressing 4

“You are what you eat so don’t be fast, cheap, easy or fake.”
-Unknown

Points to Ponder:
Is your diet providing you the opportunity to maximize your confidence?
Is it providing you the opportunity to optimize your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being?

Action Items:
1.  Consume 20-30 gram or 1 oz of protein per meal from: fish, eggs, chicken, turkey, cottage cheese, beans, grains, nuts and seeds (meats and eggs need to be free range and grass-fed, dairy needs to be organic, fish needs to be wild and not farm raised)

2.  If vegan, vegetarian, or serotonin levels/moods don’t increase with added protein, consume an effective and natural serotonin herbal remedy called Saint-John’s wort, which is equally as effective as Prozac in treating symptoms of depression.

Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Undoubtedly, when I began reading The Confidence Code, I never would’ve imagined all of the research that has been dedicated to determining the origin of confidence, how we get more of it and why some of us have more or less of it. And, I for sure would not have guessed that food (our diet) plays a real physiological role in our ability to have confidence. Honestly, The Confidence Code has not made the diet/confidence correlation (at least not that I’ve read yet). Rather, I have drawn this conclusion and here’s why:

In The Confidence Code, research has found that “having healthy levels of serotonin (a neurotransmitter) in the prefrontal cortex of the brain enables us to make more rational decisions, because serotonin helps us remain calm. Our prefrontal cortex is the command center of our brain–it’s the home of executive function, rational thought and decision making. When that part of the brain is awash in serotonin, it encourages confidence in our decision making because we feel much less stress.”

Now, couple the serotonin piece with the findings from another compelling book, The Mood Cure by Julia Ross, which is based on 15 years of clinical results. She also sights that “if you have healthy and high levels of serotonin you are positive, confident, flexible, and easy-going. On the flip-side, if you have low or sinking levels of serotonin you’ll tend to become negative, obsessive, worried, irritable and sleepless. Furthermore, serotonin is emotionally vital in that it is our primary defense against depression and anxiety”. And so, if we are anxious or depressed, sustainable confidence is impossible.

Now, here’s the crazy but not surprising discovery found in the The Mood Cure. “Serotonin is made out of the foods we eat and is synthesized in your body from tryptophan, an amino acid (protein building block) found in foods like turkey, beef and cheese. And therefore, if we are not eating pro-serotonin foods like protein and healthy fats, and we are consuming too much anti-serotonin foods like caffeinated sodas, coffee, artificially sweetened foods and drinks (man-made/fake foods), chances are our serotonin levels are low, leaving us sluggish and not feeling confident. (Fast foods and skipped meals have depleted us from many of the vitamins and minerals that assist in the magic conversion of tryptophan to serotonin.)”

According to The Mood Cure, there are also three other neurotransmitters that affect our moods: catecholamines, GABA and endorphins. “If you are high in catecholamines, you are energized, upbeat, and alert. If you are low in catecholamines- you are sinking in lethargic funks. If you are high in GABA- you’re relaxed and stress free. If there’s a gap in your GABA- you’re wired, stressed and overwhelmed. If you are high in endorphins- you’re full of cozy feelings of comfort, pleasure and euphoria. If you are low in endorphins- you may be overly sensitive. And, to sum it all up, too much stress depletes the brain of the these “feel good” neurotransmitters. A good night’s sleep, adequate relaxation and appropriate down time are critical to restoring optimal levels of good-mood chemicals.”

I’ve always believed that ‘diet is king’ and plays a significant role in our health and happiness. After reading the scientific evidence in the The Confidence Code and The Mood Cure, I am now more convinced that the foods and drinks we consume are indeed directly related to our physical, mental, emotional, spiritual well-being and confidence.

 

 

Almond Protein Balls

Almond Protein Balls

  • 2 cups raw almond butter (freshly ground is best!)
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 2 cups gluten-free oats
  • 2 cups brown rice crisp cereal (Barbara’s brand from Whole Foods)
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries (or dried fruit of your choice)
  1. Microwave almond butter and honey for 2 minutes and stir
  2. Combine wet and dry ingredients, stir well.
  3. Roll into balls and refrigerate 1 – 2 hrs. before serving

Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Balsamic Caramel

image: The Partial Ingredients

image: The Partial Ingredients

Recipe by Chef Scott Tompkins

Recipe by Chef Scott Tompkins

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Serves 4-6

1 cup           Ottavio Platinum Balsamic Vinegar (available at most  HEB’s)
2 tbsp          Salted Butter
2 lbs             Fresh Brussels Sprouts *cut in half
½ cup           Golden raisins
¼ cup           Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp ea.      Kosher Salt & black pepper

  1. Heat oven to 425°F.
  2. In a large bowl combine halved brussels sprouts with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Toss well to combine and place on a sheet pan and into the oven. Cook until just browned, about 30-45 min. (The darker the sprout, the more intense the flavor)
  3. Combine the roasted brussel sprouts with the raisins and drizzle with Balsamic Caramel (Recipe below)
  4. Balsamic Caramel: In a stainless steel saucepan (or non-reactive pot) reduce 1 cup of balsamic vinegar over low heat until liquid is reduced by half (takes about 20min over low-med heat).  Cut the heat and add in the butter and whisk until melted.  Let stand for about 5 min,  drizzle over anything.

— — — — —

Chef Scott TompkinsScott Tompkins is Head Chef & Manager at H-E-B on Farwest Boulevard in Austin, Texas and is a featured speaker at iGnite’s Intentional Renewal Wellness Retreat in February 2014 where he will give a cooking demo and talk (including recipes) on ‘Simplifying Healthy Meals for the Everyday.’  Scott runs his own kitchen and department, creates his own recipes and loves every minute of it. Join us at the Intentional Renewal retreat to get more great healthy recipes, learn more about the health benefits of incorporating different foods into your cooking, and more!

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An Apple A Day Really Does Keep the Doctor Away: Eat the Seeds Too!

Eat Your Apple Seeds!

by Nancy Dacy, Health Coach

by Nancy Dacy, Health Coach

Hooray for apple season!

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is certainly a familiar saying to us all. The apple is one of God’s great health-giving foods, and the whole apple — including the seeds and skin — is a powerhouse of nutrition.  Apples contain enzymes, minerals, fiber, iron, vitamin C and more, and a medium apple only has about 90 calories!  Try to consume the whole fruit as opposed to just drinking the juice for the added benefit of more fiber.  The crisper the apple, the better it is!

An apple a day will most certainly help keep the cardiologist away. Eating an apple a day helps reduce the risk of having a stroke, as it helps lower total cholesterol and triglycerides. It is a very good artery and colon cleaner and is even often an ingredient in liver/gallbladder flushes.

Those of you who know me know and that I am a huge advocate of eating the seeds of your apples. The seeds contain organic cyanide, which kill cancer cells but will not hurt you at all. They may be eaten along with the apple or blended into a smoothie, and they are soft and tasteless. Again, just one apple a day is all you need!

Along with helping prevent cancer and strokes, the high level of antioxidants in apples will improve brain function and memory, and can’t we all use that boost!?

The apple is one fruit that you should try your hardest to eat organic. Yes, more money, but worth every penny. It may not look as “pretty,” but that’s because it is not covered in a nice shiny layer of wax.

My personal favorite apple is the Honey Crisp, which are in abundance right now. My second favorite?  The Pink Lady. However, these are just my personal preferences. I love to just eat an apple dipped in peanut butter, but better still is almond butter. This is the easiest way to enjoy the nutritional benefits of the apple along with a good source of protein. But, you can do so many things with apples. If you have a Vitamix, Blend Tech, Ninja or another one of the more powerful blenders, you can easily make your own applesauce, using the apple as the only ingredient.

Dried Apples
Dried apples are a great snack to have on hand and especially to travel with. I use a dehydrator, but you can also use your oven. Just slice them very thin, brush with a little lemon juice and sprinkle with some cinnamon. Spread them out on trays or cookie sheets and dry for 12 hours at 140 degrees in the dehydrator, or 10-20 hours at 150 degrees in the oven.

Baked Apples
I will often bake apples by coring them (yes, I carefully save and eat the seeds), and then filling the cavity with a little butter (don’t be afraid of eating butter) and cinnamon, and then pour a small amount of water over all. Bake at 350 degrees until soft and tender.

Eat up and enjoy!

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The Magic of Coconut Oil

by Nancy Dacy, Health Coach

by Nancy Dacy, Health Coach

To cut straight to the chase, coconut oil is good for almost everything  you can imagine.  Just some of the seemingly endless benefits of this incredible superfood are:

  • Coconut oil is a healthy fat that is anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant and anti-fungal
  • It will balance cholesterol levels. Higher consumption of coconut oil is linked to healthy cholesterol levels and a lower rate of heart disease.
  • It is easily converted into energy and does not lead to fat accumulation in the heart or arteries. It boosts energy and endurance and enhances athletic performance. Coconut water is a great post workout drink!
  • It will help fight Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and MS
  • It will enrich a mother’s milk.
  • It helps boost metabolism and aids in weight loss and promotes fat loss.
  • Yes, it is a saturated fat, but we need that for hormone production, cellular health, bone health, and our immune system.
  • It is a very powerful immune booster.
  • It increases the activity of anti-oxidant enzymes in the body.
  • It kills bacteria and parasites, eases acid reflux, aids in bowel function, lowers the risk of hemorrhoids and protects against liver degeneration.
  • It is good for stress relief.
  • It is good for the hair as it promotes healthy hair growth, keeping it shiny and eliminating dandruff. It can also be used to rid the head of lice and is a great hair conditioner.
  • It is great for your skin. It can be used as a cleanser, moisturizer, eye makeup remover etc. It will help delay wrinkles and aging. You can even use it as a body lotion and can put it on your feet to soften calluses.
  • It heals infections both topically and internally. It can be used as a solid or a liquid, but be sure to NEVER liquify it in the microwave — this will completely change the molecular structure.
  • It is great for cooking, as it has a high heat tolerance and will not become rancid due to high heat.

There is not a single reason not to add coconut oil to your daily regimen! It’s a super food.  While you’re at it, drink coconut water and add coconut flakes to your recipes, too!  And MOST IMPORTANTLY, use extra virgin organic coconut oil. Can’t find organic? Go for extra virgin coconut oil as a bare minimum.

A FEW EASY WAYS TO ADD COCONUT OIL TO YOUR DIET:

  • The simplest way is to add a tablespoon of coconut oil to any smoothie as you are making it. One of my daughters actually loves to just eat a spoonful right off the spoon!
  • When I make the iGnite Peanut Butter Protein bars, sometimes they can be a little dry depending on the oil in the peanut butter or almond butter I’m using.  So, I melt coconut oil and add it to the bars to make them more moist. You can do this to pretty much anything!
  • It is great to use to sauté or stir fry when not using a very high temperature.
  • You can substitute coconut oil for olive oil. (Olive oil is best served at room temperature.) I often see chips at The Barton Creek Farmer’s Market that are made solely with corn tortillas and coconut oil!
  • You can add it to morning cereal, oatmeal, cream of wheat etc.
  • It is a good oil to pop popcorn in for your “movie night” at home. (Try to avoid microwave popcorn!)
  • You can actually buy coconut oil pills to take if you absolutely do not like the taste/texture of the actual coconut oil.
  • And to re-emphasize, always buy extra virgin organic coconut oil! In Austin, it can be easily found at Sprouts, Whole Foods and Central Market.

And last but not least, for a sweet treat I recommend making these delicious truffles:

CHOCOLATE COCONUT TRUFFLES

images-13

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t. sea salt
  • 1 cup dried shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 1/4 cups cocoa or carob powder divided
  1. Toss coconut oil, honey, vanilla, 2 cups of the cocoa or carob powder, salt and     coconut in a food processor, processing until smooth.
  2. Remove and allow to chill in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.
  3. Form truffles by rolling into small balls and dredge with remaining 1/4 cup of cocoa or carob powder.

Go-To, Healthy Summer Dinners

We all get into routines when it comes to at-home cooking. It’s simply a lot of effort tracking down new recipes and thinking of new things to cook, right? We couldn’t agree more, so we asked the iGnite Leaders for some of their favorite go-to dinners to provide you with fresh inspiration for healthy dinners to prepare at home. No more boring dinners!

Neissa Neissa’s Pick: Salmon + Quinoa + a Big Delicious Green Salad

Molly Molly’s Pick: Quesadillas Loaded with Veggies
(recipe below)

Kathleen Kathleen’s Pick : Turkey Burgers and Corn Salad
(recipes below)

Cary Fyfe Cary’s Pick: Tilapia (olive oil and lemon) + Roasted Mixed Potatoes (regular and sweet) + Spinach/Arugula  Salad with Pecans & Sweet Yellow Tomatoes (…and a brownie for dessert!)

 Amy’s Pick: Chilled Gazpacho + Pistachio Spinach Salad + Crusty  Olive Bread
(recipes below)

Catherine Hearn Catherine’s Pick: Roasted Chicken Breast + Baked Sweet Potatoes with  Oregano + Kale Salad with chopped Walnuts & Dried  Cranberries
(recipes below)

FEATURED RECIPES: 

Photo: Southern Living

Photo: Southern Living

Kathleen’s Summer Go-To: Turkey Burgers and Corn Salad
“Really fast & easy!”

TURKEY BURGERS
2 lb. Italian Seasoned Ground Turkey (two 1 lb.pkgs from grocery store)
Chopped Red Onion
2 Cups Chopped Spinach (I just use the frozen package and thaw it)

  1. Mix all together and make burgers!
  2. Cook in oven or on Grill.

CORN SALAD
3 Cans Shoe Peg Corn
3 Cans Black Beans drained and rinsed
1 Chopped Red Pepper
1 bunch Chopped Cilantro
1 bunch Chopped Green Onions
Salt and Pepper
DRESSING: 1/2 c. Red Wine Vinegar and 1/2 c. Olive Oil mixed together– just pour over and chill!!

Amy’s Go-To: A big healthy bowl of chilled Gazpacho along with Pistachio Spinach Salad and Crusty Olive Bread

Photo: cookistry.com

Photo: cookistry.com

WHOLE FOODS GAZPACHO
1 large onion
1 1/2 lbs. tomatoes, seeded
2 large cucumbers, seeded
1 medium red pepper, seeded
1/2 cup fresh cilantro (I like more!)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups tomato puree
1 cup tomato juice
1 Tbls. lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
1/8 cup good quality balsamic vinegar

  1. Combine the olive oil, tomato puree, tomato juice, and lemon juice in a large bowl.
  2. Pour half the liquid ingredients into a Vitamix or blender and add half the onion, tomatoes, pepper and cilantro, roughly chopped. Pulse to chop coarsely. Repeat with the remaining vegetable and liquid ingredients.
  3. Combine both batches in a large container.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste, and blend in the balsamic vinegar.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.
  6. Add fresh cilantro before serving and drizzle some good quality extra virgin olive oil over the top (optional.)

SPINACH SALAD WITH PISTACHIOS (easy, healthy and Paleo-friendly)
5 ounces baby spinach
1/2 cup roasted pistachios
1/2 cup dried cherries
MUSTARD ORANGE DRESSING
2 Tbls. olive extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbls. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbls. orange juice, freshly squeezed
1 tsp. dijon mustard

  1.  In a large salad bowl, toss together spinach, pistachios and cherries
  2. In a jar, combine olive oil, vinegar, orange juice, mustard and shake well
  3. Drizzle the dressing over the salad
  4. Toss and serve
Photo: allrecipes.com

Photo: allrecipes.com

Catherine’s favorite: EASY BAKED SWEET POTATOES WITH OREGANO
(Makes 4 servings)

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large sweet potatoes
2 pinches dried oregano
2 pinches salt
2 pinches ground black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat the bottom of a glass or non-stick baking dish with olive oil, just enough to coat.
  2. Wash and peel the sweet potatoes. Cut them into medium size pieces. Place the cut sweet potatoes in the baking dish and turn them so that they are coated with the olive oil. Sprinkle moderately with oregano, and salt and pepper (to taste).
  3. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 60 minutes or until soft.
Photo: myrecipes.com

Photo: myrecipes.com

Molly’s quick & easy go-to: QUESADILLAS LOADED WITH VEGGIES
Corn tortillas
Refried black beans
Any and all veggies….spinach, onion, bell pepper, avocado (or pre-made  guacamole)
Salsa
Cheese to your liking
Add any other protein you’d like (preferably a lean protein such as chicken, shrimp, etc.)

What are YOUR favorite healthy summer dinners? Leave a comment and share your ideas