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SubstituesForPastaThe primary crux of my practice as a nutritionist is transitioning people away from processed foods. Like most people, I grew up on a staple of casseroles, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, and the like. Pasta is by far one of the more processed foods, predominantly made from the starch of a grain. Even when you buy‘whole wheat’ pasta, it wouldn’t hold together without a significant ratio of that fine, white starch.

Nobody wants to give up flavor … and old habits are hard to break, but here are five delicious alternatives that will not only increase the nutritional value of your meal, but help make eating gluten-free cheaper!

Cauliflower

One of my favorite recipes using cauliflower as a substitute for pasta is my Smoked Mac-n-Cheese. Using chopped cauliflower (steamed and well drained) and about half as much white rice for ‘mouth feel’, I create a base for an American favorite that even the kid’s love. I happen to love smoked cheeses, but you can get creative here (– just try to refrain from the Velveeta please!). Mix up a batch of cheese sauce and pour it over your cauliflower mixture. Place it all in a casserole dish and garnish. (I use green onions and bacon for my garnish) Heat at 350 until it bubbles. Don’t worry, there won’t be any leftovers.

Mung Bean Sprouts

In my house, soup is a huge staple and we occasionally fall back on some old standards like “Chicken and Noodle” and the likes. In this case, I use mung bean sprouts as a replacement for the egg noodles. It never fails and I am always so thrilled with how amazingly the sprouts complement my soup. This one is just way too easy.

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is like the string cheese of squash. When it is cooked, you can pull it out of its shell in strands that look a little like orange angel-hair pasta. The biggest difference between squash and pasta – aside from the nutritional value – is how light and fresh it feels in your dish. You can even crisp it back up if you place the strands in a bowl of cold water directly after removing the strands from the skin.

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Stress – The Primary Cause of Degenerative Disease

stress-primary-cause-degenerative-disease-first-respondersSeveral research studies have shown us that individuals employed in law enforcement, fire fighting, and other first-responder occupations are at significantly higher risk for degenerative health conditions. Outside of personal injury from physical confrontation or other risk factors, stress could easily be the crux of most degenerative health conditions threatening public servant personnel. Dealing with the effects of job-related stress has traditionally been addressed through psychological counseling. The fundamental defect in this approach stems from neglecting the intrinsic relationship between the mind and the body.

Stress: its so much more than a state of mind.

From a holistic perspective, stress is defined as the phenomenon of bringing the body out of homeostasis. Everything about how the body works revolves around maintaining a stable, relatively constant condition of properties such as temperature, pH, and electrolyte levels. By broadening our definition, we can now begin to understand how stress is related to obesity and other degenerative health conditions beyond depression, divorce, and suicide.

In reality, stress comes from many different origins and stimuli:

1. Physical stress can range from injury and physical exertion to immobility and repetitive use syndrome.

2. Emotional stress is most easily defined as “mental strain”. Psychological stress stems from five different stimuli or conditions:

  • Pressure
  • Loss
  • Frustration
  • Conflict
  • Threat

3. Environmental stress includes climate, air pollution, airborne allergens, etc.

4. Infections are the constant scenario whereby your body is dealing with foreign invaders

5. Poor nutrition, or malnourishment, can occur in cases of insufficient calories or excessive calories. Poor nutrition is the condition whereby at least one nutrient required for any one given metabolic process is absent or available in supplies insufficient to complete any given metabolic process. (eg. Magnesium is needed in over 300 metabolic reactions) Excess amounts of sugars and refined foods, for example, can diminish thiamine, niacin, B12, magnesium, and calcium. Low levels of these nutrients increase nervous-system reactivity, irritability, and nervousness. But even more serious is the realization that poor eating habits in general lead to low concentrations of nutrients in the blood, which can impair brain function.
first-responder-corporate-wellness-programs6. Sleep deprivation comes from inadequate sleep AND imbalanced ratios of the different sleep cycles.

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Diet and Exercise… Will Never Cure the Obesity Epidemic

After years of proclaiming that “diet is 85% of the game”, this title might leave you thinking that I have just fallen off the turnip truck. But if you sit with me for a few minutes, I will explain why I believe that the current protocol for addressing obesity is doomed to failure.

Diet and exercise: there are two distinct problems in this equation. The first one comes from the inherent limitations of language and misunderstandings around the word ‘Diet’. Secondly, we have adopted a view of physical fitness that does not reach the vast majority of the population. Throw both of those into a solution for combating obesity related degenerative diseases, and the byproduct is a catastrophic fiasco. Does that mean that you should just resign yourself to ‘genetics’ and a future predetermined by forces out of your control? Of course not! Let’s break it all down for a better understanding of what-fails-where, and then we can look at a better solution.

The dictionary definition of the word ‘diet’ does not vary much. Merriam-Webster describes diet as:
a. food and drink regularly provided or consumed
b. habitual nourishment
c. the kind and amount of food prescribed for a person or animal for a special reason, and
d. a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one’s weight.

In our current culture, D-I-E-T is a four-letter word in every sense. Nobody likes being on a diet. When people talk about diets today, it is almost always in reference to that last definition. Being on a diet is all about denial, limitations, bland foods, and becoming a bit of a social outcast. Dieting has become synonymous with a collection of aberrant prescriptions outlining good and bad foods. Atkins, South Beach, Paleo, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and a host of other diets over the decades claim to be the ideal solution for health and weight maintenance.

The real problem is that nobody eats this way as a natural course, so diets are always temporary. That means that eventually, you are going to be back in the same predicament debating which ‘diet’ to put yourself on next to help you lose the extra weight. And, that extra weight will return given that scientific studies show that when individuals diet to lose weight, they rebound by gaining all of the weight lost plus additional weight when they return to a ‘normal’ diet. This is a direct response to the traditional calorie restricted diet.

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Food Substitutions Can Add Nutrients

When we think about food substitutions, it is almost about eliminating something. Low-fat cooking, sugar-free products: these are just a few of the more common examples. Being true to my philosophy on a healthy diet, I believe that substitutions have a greater purpose: ADDING nutrients!

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Below I have listed some of my favorite, and sometimes unusual substitutions that help turn the most common dishes into superfoods.

Rolled Oats
I was watching a cooking show about meatloaf. The chef was using saltine crackers soaked in milk, which is a very traditional way to do meatloaf – right up there with breadcrumbs. What I have found is that you get wonderful results using rolled oats in place of the crackers or breadcrumbs. Although oats are also processed, they are less processed and still resemble the whole grain.

Spaghetti Squash
I didn’t believe this when I first heard about it, but it is true! Spaghetti squash is a wonderful substitute for traditional spaghetti and rice in some of your favorite recipes. Just bake the spaghetti squash, allow to cool slightly, and scrape out the strands with a fork. Rinse with cold water to maintain crispness if the recipe allows, or just serve immediately when it needs to be warm. You will be amazed at how flavorful your recipes are with this substitution

Enzymes
This one is a little geeky but it is hard not to be fascinated. We all know that protein is critical to a healthy diet. Proteins are configurations of amino acids, but so are enzymes. Enzymes are present in raw foods (meat and vegetables) and assist in the digestion of that food. The extra cool thing about getting your protein through enzymes is that your body has to do a lot less work. Where we have to break down proteins into the individual amino acids in order to rebuild proteins, we can also build proteins from a supply of enzymes. This can be handy when balancing the grocery budget.

Coconut Milk
Dairy products are such a huge staple in our culture, but in truth, roughly 80% of the world population does not digest it well. Cow’s milk is by far the most difficult. Fortunately, coconut milk offers a tasty alternative. Check out my website for coconut whipped cream, creamy ranch dressing, and cream of mushroom soup (which makes wonderful gravy and scrumptious green bean casserole).

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Corporate Wellness Lunch & Learns

corporate-wellness-lunch-and-learnsCorporate Wellness Lunch & Learns Seminars

Nutrition

• Defining Nutrients (Basics)
• Understanding Diets
• When Diet and Exercise Don’t Seem to be Working
• Foundations and Body Typing
• Straight Talk about Fast Food
• Portion Control: Why Diets Fail
• Food and Stress
• Do You Need Supplements?
• Family Nutrition: What Kids Will Eat
• The Whole Foods Advantage
• Economics of a Healthy Diet

Movement
• Do what you enjoy
• Putting effort to work for you
• Lightweight resistance training
• Getting to the core of things
• Flexibility for longevity

Change

• SMART Goals Seminar
• Living the Less-Stress Lifestyle I: Start S.M.A.R.T!
• Living the Less-Stress Lifestyle II: Finish S.T.R.O.N.G!
• Easy ways to reduce stress
• Stress and the holidays
• Change for Good! How to Let Go of a Bad Habit and Create a Better One
• How to Stop Doing What You DON’T Want and Start Doing What You DO Want!
• How to Change Your Mind, Change Your Behaviors, and Change Your Life

Find out how your company can benefit from a Wellness Program
303-955-8049
admin@fitnessnutritiondenverboulder.com

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A Definition of What Exactly Are “Whole Foods”

In the nutrition industry, we have to be mindful of the words that we use and how they are applied to day-to-day contact. Oftentimes terms we use are not obvious to “normal people”. Today we are going to talk in plain English about a definition of what EXACTLY are whole foods.

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Sometimes, the concept of healthy nutrition is a lot like my college experience in freshman psychology and sociology classes: everybody and his dog seems to have a theory. This could not be truer in the diet industry.

Reading diet book after diet book, it became very obvious that most diet books are little more than one person’s journal of how they fixed themselves. The problem comes in the habit to bill that one person’s solution as a silver bullet for the vast majority. It sells because, with that promise, people are captured by the hope that they too could experience true joy and self-acceptance if only they can follow ‘this’ meal plan for a month or two. Diets do not work because they do not typically reflect real life – Your Life!

The basis of my practice and preaching revolves around whole foods, but a friend recently pointed out to me that she did not really understand what defines whole food.

A definition of whole foods

Whole foods are foods that are unprocessed and unrefined, or processed and refined as little as possible before being consumed. Whole foods typically do not contain added ingredients, such as sugar, salt, or fat.

That might clear up some confusion, but we go a little farther here with examples. Of course, all raw fruits and vegetables are whole foods. Since most of us are not following a raw-foods diet, lets look as some other common foods. Take potatoes for starters. A baked potato is closer to its original form as it was uprooted on the farm than a potato chip. A kettle chip is simply sliced and dropped into a deep fat fryer, and possibly coated with various flavors. A baked potato would be considered a whole food: a potato chip would not.

Things can get a little gray from here, as many of the foods that we do not consider as junk-foods may still not be considered as whole foods. Milk is a perfect example. Pasteurization and homogenization strip milk of nutrients and enzymes that are normally contained in raw milk. Add to that the practice of reducing fats, fortifying with vitamins and mineral , and in some cases, adding artificial flavors such as strawberry and it becomes more clear that the milk you get in the grocery (unless you live in California) is no longer a whole food. It does not matter if you use that milk to make fermented foods such as yogurt or kefir – it is no longer a whole food. Raw milk cheese would be a different story.

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