Monthly Archives: September 2013

My Soaking Almonds Adventure

I love almonds because they are a quick and easy snack to grab that are full of nutrition, like omega 3 fatty acids, protein, fat etc.  However, in the past, I have noticed I get an upset belly if I eat more than half a serving of almonds. Some research suggests this may be caused by the phytic acid nuts contain. The claim is that the acid inhibits enzymes, like pepsin that is needed to breakdown proteins in the stomach and amylase that is needed to breakdown starch into sugar. It is recommended to soak your almonds for 24 hours in water and sea salt and then remove the skin to decrease the amount of phytic acid found in nuts.

I am not a researcher, so I do not know if this claim is 100% true, but I thought I had nothing to lose by testing out the recommendation.  I decided to test this theory out and  soaked a little over a cup of almonds for 24 hours in sea salt and water. Then I removed the outer layer by simply pushing on the top part of the almond, allowing it to easily slip out of the shell. It is important to either dehydrate or bake the almonds afterwards so they dry out and do not become moldy. I tossed the almonds in olive oil, sea salt and rosemary then roasted in the oven for 40 minutes. They tasted delicious! I feel  that the soaking process enhanced the flavor. I ate a whole serving to test the almonds and did not experience any digestive problems. Does it work for everyone? I do not know. It is something everyone will have to experiment with to learn on their own.  This is something I will continue to play with and test for my own body and digestive system.

Leave me a comment if you have experimented with soaking any type of nuts and if you experienced any positive health benefits.

Be well!

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What I Ate Wednesday

During the week, I like to keep things simple and today was no different. I started the morning off with a green shake (made in my new Vitamix). If you are interested in trying some breakfast shakes, then check out this website for some recipe ideas. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/5-sweet-savory-primal-shakes/#axzz2fxjMDihB Some of the recipes on here call for whey protein, but if you are like me, then you cannot digest whey very well and will need another type of protein. I often will use Hemp or pea protein. At the moment, my naturopath has me on Apex Clear Vite protein powder supplement, which I also like.   http://www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com/clearvite-sf-p-apex-energetics.html?gclid=COO50OCE6LkCFQ9BQgod42QACg

Lunch was a little different for me today because at work I had a departmental lunch outing. I typically never eat lunch out so this was a special treat. We went to a restaurant called Ki’s that overlooked the ocean, which was so beautiful today. Luckily, this restaurant has a gluten free menu so ordering lunch was not a problem. I had a sweet kale salad that had strawberries, slivered almonds and grilled chicken. It was delicious.

I needed a snack later this afternoon before I went for my workout since I only had a salad for lunch. My snack was 1/4 cup of shelled pistachios.

Dinner was also simple, homemade cobb salad with bacon (of course), hard boiled eggs, lettuce, baked chicken, avocado, pepperoncini, tomatoes, olive oil with salt and cracked pepper. It was simple, yet delicious. The best part is that there are leftovers for my lunch tomorrow.

What did you eat today?

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet

In the past 30 days, I have been experimenting with the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) and have experienced some tremendous results.  This is a diet protocol written by Elaine Gottschall after she dedicated her life researching the connection between diet and gut health due to her daughter’s diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis. She based the principles of the diet on the work of her daughter’s physician, Dr. Sidney Valentine, who treated patients with irritable bowel disease (IBD) and Celiac in the 1950’s. The diet removes complex carbohydrates and other man made sugars because they require extra steps during the digestion process. If complex carbohydrates are not digested properly, then they can potentially remain in the intestinal tract and create bacteria and yeast overgrowth. This can then cause issues with food absorption and irritation in the small intestine. Monosaccharide is the only type of carbohydrate allowed to be eaten because the body can easily break it down. The SCD helps to restore the normal gut flora and promote intestinal healing.

On the SCD, almost all grains (i.e. wheat, barley, corn, rye, oats, rice, buckwheat, millet, and quinoa), processed foods, canned fruit, commercial yogurts and dairy, starches (i.e. potatoes and sweet potatoes) are all eliminated. I know what is going through your mind right now, “what can a person eat on this diet?” That is a great question and at first it seems like there is a lot to learn, but after awhile it becomes quite simple. The SCD diet allows you to eat meat, most vegetables, and some fruits and nuts. Also, a limited amount of quality dairy (i.e. aged goat cheese, grass fed butter and ghee) is allowed, but only if tolerated. I do not tolerate dairy so I do not add it into my daily nutrition. For a complete list of allowed and not allowed food, visit http://www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info/legal/listing/.

As I’ve previously mentioned, I have recently experimented with this style of eating and I’ve experienced some positive health benefits. However, I went on vacation for a few days and strayed from the eating guidelines and suffered some ill effects. It was a good lesson though because it allowed me to see that these nutrition principles work for my body. The book recommends following the diet for at least a year or two to receive the best health benefits and restore gut health.  I am going to initially commit to six months on this diet and see how I feel. I will blog about it frequently so be sure to check back. In the mean time, if you are interested in learning more, I suggest picking up the book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle. http://www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info/p/the-book/

The Sugar Rollercoaster

The daily sugar rollercoaster is when your blood sugar drops too low causing you to feel hungry, irritable or tired. When I feel this way, I call it “hangry” meaning I am so hungry that I get angry.  This is when a person starts to crave sweets and carbohydrates. They eat the sweets or other sources of carbs and instantly feel better because their blood sugar levels increased. Then a few hours later it drops again so again they eat some sugar and the cycle repeats itself all day long.  Have you been riding the blood sugar rollercoater?

The best way to get off the rollercoaster ride is to eat three balanced meals a day that contain protein, fat and carbohydrates.  If there is going to be more than four hours in-between meals, then a snack with the same components might be necessary.  This is true for me as I am an early riser, so I eat breakfast at 6:45 am and lunch at 11:30 am, but then I don’t usually eat dinner until 7 or 8 pm.  Therefore, I typically need a snack around 3 or 4 pm to tide me over. Eating balanced meals every four hours also helps me to regulate my hormones, mood, cravings and energy levels.

It sounds easy enough, but the right combination can still be confusing so let’s break it down. The best sources of complete protein are in the form of animal meats and organic eggs. Healthy types of fats are found in things like avocado, grass-fed butter or ghee, nuts, seeds, nut-butters and oils (i.e. coconut, avocado, walnut or olive). Lastly, the best sources of carbohydrates are from fresh vegetables and fruits, but other sources are grains (if you eat them), pasta and bread. See below for some sample meals.

Meals Ideas:

Breakfast: 2 scrambled organic eggs (protein) cooked in 1 tablespoon of coconut oil (healthy fat) and ½ cup of spinach (carbs)

Lunch: Spinach salad (1-2 cups) (carbs) topped with a grilled chicken breast (protein), 1 -2 tablespoons of olive oil (fat), and ½ an avocado (healthy fat)

Snack: 2-3 slices of bacon cooked in an iron skillet (fat/a little bit of protein) with 1 cup of kale (carbs) cooked in the bacon fat

Dinner: 6 once steak (protein), roasted greenbeans (carbs) tossed with rosemary, olive oil (healthy fat) and sea salt. A glass of red wine pairs well with this meal and would be okay to have since there is a good source of protein. You never want to drink alcohol without have some protein with it because it turns to sugar in your body. The protein helps to stabilize the body’s blood sugar levels.

As always, feel free to contact me at cheek.kristi@gmail.com if you have any questions.

Be well!

What I Ate Wednesday

I started the morning with a shake, which I do often because it is an easy way to sneak in some extra greens in my breakfast. I kept it simple today with just a protein powder and some  spinach. Also, I added my pro-biotic and fish oil liquid to my shake. Once I got to work I had one travel mug full of organic coffee with one tablespoon of coconut oil. I add the coconut oil per the recommendation of my naturopath because I have extremely low triglycerides (23). Coconut oil is also known to be good for immune health and increasing energy levels.

Lunch was leftover chili from the previous night. The chili is simply made with ground beef, a red and yellow pepper, onion, jalapeno, diced tomatoes and lots of spices for flavor.  I added half an avocado to get some extra healthy fat in to help me feel full for most of my afternoon. Also, I had a handful of almonds that I soaked a couple of days ago for 24 hours and removed the skin. Then I tossed them in olive oil, sea salt and rosemary and baked on 400 F for 40 minutes.

My afternoon snack was peppered bacon with kale. I cooked the bacon in an iron skillet and then added the kale. The grease from the bacon gives the kale a delicious flavor. This is one of my favorite snacks.

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Dinner consisted of my version of chicken fajitas. It was just a grilled chicken breast with a red and green pepper and onion served in a lettuce wrap and topped with Wholly Guacamole. It is a great weeknight meal because it is so quick and easy.

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After dinner, I had a nice glass of Merlot to help me relax. It was a great day! What did you eat?

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Grain Free

Based on  the research I have read over the last several years, people with conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s, or Celiac disease improve after going gluten free, however it doesn’t always do the trick. A large percentage of individuals need to eliminate other grains too, such as rice, corn and wheat in order to feel drastically better.  This was true for me as well, but it took me a long time to accept. I still struggle with eliminating corn and rice from my diet, especially because I live in Southern California with the most amazing Mexican and Sushi restaurants. It’s often difficult to resist eating some of these amazing foods, however I have learned that I will regret it later. For example, I ate tortilla chips this past weekend and on Monday I woke up swollen, my weight was up five pounds and my digestion was not optimal. I corrected my diet and drank lots of water to flush my system out and the five pounds were gone by Wednesday. I think of experiences like this as “gentle reminders” of why I eat the way I do.

There are several reasons why grains might cause intestinal problems and the cause may be different for each person. One reason might be because the grains are starches that are hard to digest therefore they remain in the gut and ferment creating gases and diarrhea. Another reason is that they are sources of fructans that is a FODMAP (fermentable oligo-, di-, and mono-saccharides and polyols) and known to cause gastrointestinal side effects. Lastly, many of the grains are genetically modified (GMO) and all the ill health effects are unknown at this time. However, there are some studies relating GMO corn with increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut) (Jacob, 2013).

If you think other grains besides gluten may be a problem for you, the best thing I know to do is try an elimination diet. This is the best way because it is FREE! Eliminate the food for at least four weeks and keep a food diary tracking your symptoms (gas, bloating, diarrhea etc). During this four week period take note if you have any digestive improvements or experience any other changes. After four weeks you can reintroduce the grain into your diet. Start the first day with a small serving size. If you experience symptoms on day one, then you should not proceed any further and keep eliminating the food. If you did not have any symptoms on day one, then double the serving size for day two. Day three, double the serving size from day two. If you do not experience any symptoms after day three, then you can keep the food in your diet.  Symptoms that start on day two or three mean that you can possibly keep the food in your diet, but only in very small quantities and limited times per week. Everybody is different and it is all about discovering what works with your body. If you have any questions about an elimination diet, please feel free to e-mail me at cheek.kristi@gmail.com.

 References

Jacob, A. (2013). Digestive health with real food: A practical guide to an anti-inflammatory,             low-irritant, nutrient-dense diet for IBS & other digestive issues. USA: Paleo Media Group, LLC.