Categorized as: Nutrition Tips & Recipes

Not All Sugar is Created Equal

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Blog by-VICTORIA VEST

The Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners

According to recent studies (www-m.cnn.com), 40% of adult Americans consume no calorie sweeteners every single day. Through blood and urine testing, most adults who claim to not consume any artificial sweeteners do so unknowingly! So what exactly is the harm in these no cal sugar substitutes? The way the human brain and body react to these products is much more complex than you would think!

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One major concern of health advisors is that some consumers may assume that it’s okay to replace these “lost calories” with other sugary substances. The “Because I had a Diet Coke, it’s okay to have some ice cream too!” mentality is a big pitfall of these substitutes. Research has also found that faux sweeteners may alter your tastebuds. Since artificial sweeteners are SO much sweeter than natural sugar, they can actually overstimulate your palate making nutritious food such as fruit and vegetables taste less desirable, resulting in you eating less of the good stuff.

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Studies from Harvard University have recently found that chemicals like aspartame may actually trick your brain into associating sugar with caloric intake, therefor causing us to eat more and possibly even choose sugar dense food over nutritionally dense food! Worst of all, these studies also led to the findings that these substitutes can be highly addictive, making it that much harder to curb your use of them.
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Before beating yourself up about your most recent indulgence in Diet Coke, realize it is never to late to say “no” to Equal from here on out. Every time you go to reach for a diet soda, try drinking a glass of water first and have a small piece of fruit to get quench your thirst and sugar craving! It’ll help you and your body in the long run.

Homemade Nut Bars

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Recipe by-AMBER MEDINA VASQUEZ

Ingredients:
(Select any type of nuts you’d like, but this recipe includes raw organic cashews, almonds, pecans and pistachios.)
*1 cup cashew nuts
*1 cup almonds
*1 cup pecans
*1 cup pistachios
*1 cup hemp seeds for added protein  (you can add any mixture of small seed you’d like ex: sesame seeds or hemp)
*1/2 cup organic/raw honey
*1/3 cup maple syrup
*1/4 tsp salt
*1 tsp vanilla
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Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375, spread nuts out on a cookie sheet that is dusted lightly with oil of preference. Bake for 5-7 minutes then transfer in to a medium to large bowl with any seeds.
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2. Now here’s the tricky part and might shy you away from trying this recipe, but it’s worth it! Using a baking thermometer (or one that reaches 260 degrees) is important. This process is what dictates the firmness of your bars an keeps them held together. Bring the liquids to a boil on medium heat and be sure it reaches 260 degrees.
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3. Once the two steps above have been completed you’ll pour your liquid mixture into the bowl with the nuts and seeds stirring until everything is coated nice and evenly.
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4. After mixture is complete spread back out on your cookie sheet (you can oil it a little again) and flatten it out with your spatula. Lightly coat the spatula with coconut oil  to keep the mixture from sticking.
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5. Allow to cool to room temperature for about 20 minutes then enjoy!
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Labels Matter

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Nutrition Tip by-MELISSA JUDNICH

Nutrition labels are on products so we know what we’re putting into our bodies, but does everyone really know how to read them? Here are some things to consider when looking at nutrition labels.

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1. CHECK THE SERVING SIZE- How many servings does it have? How much is in 1 serving? Often times they will try to trick you by making the servings smaller than you normally would use to make it more appealing.

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2. CHECK THE INGREDIENTS- What is in it? Can you pronounce it? If not, you probably shouldn’t eat it. It’s also probably in your cleaning products! (gross!)

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3. CHECK THE PROTEIN CONTENT- Higher amounts of protein are usually better! Obviously, this won’t work for salad dressings and sauces but for snacks and bars we want more protein than fat, and a similar amount to the carbs!

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4. CHECK THE CARB CONTENT- Is it more than your daily allowance of carbs? Are you counting those carbs to your macros for the day? Some sauces and dressings can be super sneaky with this. There are some BBQ sauces with 10g+ of carbs just in 1 TBSP. BE CAREFUL! They will add up.

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5. CHECK THE FAT CONTENT- Is it high? What type of fat is it? Most meals should have less than 15g of fat in them. Do you want 6g of your fat to come from that dressing? Make sure to add this in to total fat content.

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6. ARE THERE ANY NUTRIENTS? – Does it have any vitamins, minerals, or fiber? If not, it’s probably not a healthy option.
Are calories important? Yes, but they should not be the only thing you consider when looking at a food label. You can find a TON of things low in calories, but are any of them healthy? The answer is usually no!

Know Your Salmon

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Blog by-AMBER MEDINA VASQUEZ

Healthy fats are essential fuel for our bodies and minds, but not all fats are equal. Both farmed and wild salmon are excellent sources of disease-preventing omega-3s (good fats). Farmed salmon is higher than wild salmon in overall fat and calories, it’s also higher in inflammatory omega-6 fats (bad fats). While wild fish have a far better fatty acid ratio of omega-3 fats (anti-inflammatory fats) to omega-6 fats (pro-inflammatory fats) that ratio is skewed in farmed salmon due to their size and diet, here are the dirty facts.

Research shows that wild salmon has a more robust content of vitamins and minerals per calorie compared to farmed fish. The difference in the nutrition breakdown, wild salmon eat other organisms found in its natural environment, where farmed fish are fed a higher-fat processed diet to produce larger fish. Wild salmon tends to pack more calcium, iron, zinc, and potassium than farmed salmon.

Research also showed that wild salmon contains the antioxidant astaxanthin (what makes salmon meat appear dark pink). This anti-inflammatory molecule has benefits that include possibly improving muscle endurance. Wild salmon get their fill of the antioxidant by chowing down on astaxanthin-rich plankton, while farmed salmon only get a man made version that’s created from petrochemicals like coal.

So as they say, “You are what you eat” in reality “You are what your food eats”!

Spice Up Your Rice

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Nutrition Tip by-VICTORIA VEST

Love rice as much as we do but get stuck making it the same way over and over again? We suggest adding a base other than water when cooking rice to spice up your daily recipes! .
Coconut milk, chicken or veggie stock, and even salsa to give plain white or brown rice a kick that any rice lover will appreciate.

Get Saucy

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Nutrition Tip by-VICTORIA VEST

Meal Prep Hack:

“One thing that many people struggle with when it comes to prepping meals is that they get bored of eating the same foods! Quick and easy solution – sauces!!! I find that if I make some clean and simple protein like grilled chicken breast for example, I can just change out the sauces to make it a completely different meal. This gives my meals variety and FLAVOR!”-Shifted’s Coach Tori

When shopping for sauces make sure to read labels and avoid sauces that are high in sugar or labels with a ton of ingredients that are hard to pronounce! The cleaner the sauce the better. Here are a few of my favorite paleo sauces that can be found at the local Whole Foods.

Organic Four Bean Salad with Grilled Chicken

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Recipe by-AMBER MEDINA VASQUEZ

Looking for a great simple summer meal that requires less use of your stove and more bbq-ing and cool salads that are delicious? Well, look no further! Try these two tasty summer inspired recipes.
Organic 4 Bean Salad:
*1 can Black beans
*1 can Kidney beans
*1 can Garbanzo beans
*1 can Pinto beans
*1/2 tsp salt
*1/2 tsp chili powder
*1/2 tsp Cumin
*1/2 cup Avocado oil
*1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
*2 colored peppers
*2 garlic cloves
*1 lime
*1/2 bushel of cilantro
*1/2 red onion
*Dash of Cholula hot sauce

Rub for grilled chicken:
*1 tbsp Smoked Paprika
*1 tbsp Crushed red chili pepper
*1 tbsp salt
*1 tbsp pepper
*1 tbsp Garlic salt

Natural vs Synthetic Nutrients

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Nutrition Tip by-AMBER MEDINA VASQUEZ

Often, the best way to start consuming the necessary vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients is from whole foods in your diet. However, what happens when you cannot get sufficient levels through what you eat? If you are like most people, you turn to dietary supplements. From there, you can choose to purchase synthetic nutrients or natural ones derived from whole foods.
Here’s the difference between natural and synthetic nutrients:
-Natural nutrients: These are obtained from whole food sources in the diet.
-Synthetic nutrients: Also referred to as isolated nutrients, these are usually made artificially, in an industrial process.

The majority of supplements available on the market today are made artificially. They can be taken in pill, capsule, tablet, powder or liquid form, and are made to mimic the way natural nutrients act in our bodies.

To figure out if your supplement is synthetic or natural, check the label. Natural supplements usually list food sources or are labeled as 100% plant or animal-based, organic and/or non-gmo in a dehydrated form.

Delightfully Baked Apples

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Recipe by-MEAGHAN GONZALEZ

Ingredients

* 2 large apples, halved
* 2 tbsp butter, melted
* 2 tbsp bowl sugar, unpacked
* 2 tbsp all purpose or gluten free flour
* 4 tbsp quick oats
* pinch of cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Cut apples in half and remove core and seeds with a small paring knife or spoon
  3. In a bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, flour, oats, and cinnamon. Soon on top of apple halves and sprinkle with more cinnamon.
  4. Put on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream if desired.

Turkey Bolognese with Roasted Spaghetti Squash

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Ingredients:

* 3 pound spaghetti squash
* ¼ cup olive oil, divided
* 1 pound ground turkey
* ½ cup carrots, ⅛-inch dice
* ½ cup yellow onion, finely chopped
* 1 teaspoon minced garlic
* 1 cup sliced brown mushrooms
* 3 tablespoons tomato paste
* 28 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
* ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* ¼ teaspoon black pepper
* ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
* ¼ cup chopped Italian parsley leaves

 

Directions:

  1. Place the oven rack in the center position, preheat oven to 400°F  Line a large baking sheet with foil.
  2. Cut spaghetti squash into 1-inch wide rings, scoop out the seeds, and transfer to a baking sheet. Lightly brush rings with olive oil and sprinkle with salt on both sides.
  3. Roast until tender, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool slightly and then use a fork to remove and separate the strands.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a large heavy saucepan.
  5. Add ground turkey, break the meat up into smaller chunks. Brown the meat, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer cooked meat to a medium-sized bowl.
  6. Turn heat down to medium-low and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan.
  7. Add carrots and onions, stir and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add sliced mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
  8. Add the browned meat, crushed tomatoes, oregano, salt, and pepper then stir well to combine.
  9. Simmer the sauce over medium-low heat. Cover the pan, leaving a small opening for steam to escape.
  10. Cook sauce until the meat is tender and the flavors have melded, at least 30 minutes to 1 hour, stirring every 10 minutes. Add some water if the sauce starts to look dry.
  11. Top roasted spaghetti squash with turkey bolognese sauce and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and parsley.

    From ~ The Recipe Critic