lindsey Freeman, Author at ig2go

Natural ways to de-bloat after the holidays

First off, we hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend, full of laughter, good company, and excellent food. If you are like most people, chances are your holiday plate was piled a little higher than your average everyday meal (honestly when the food is that delicious who wouldn’t savor every bite?). And if that’s the case, there’s a chance you might feel some lingering bloating sensations from the festivities. There’s absolutely no shame, we’ve all been there, and we know it can take a day or two for your gut to feel normal again. Bloating can be super uncomfortable when it sticks around, and today we’d like to share some of our favorite tips to reduce and get rid it.

What Causes Bloating?

Bloating can be caused by a number of different things, including eating too fast, too much, or eating too much of certain kinds of foods (for instance, overdoing it on your dietary fiber for the day). Bloating can also be caused by carbonated beverages, food intolerances, artificial sweeteners, or hormonal changes. Regardless of the root cause, the feeling of being bloated ultimately comes from sudden changes in your normal digestive harmony that result in excessive gas, solids, or liquids working their way through your gut.

Preventing Bloating From Happening in the First Place

  • Slow down when you eat and chew your food well before you swallow. This gives your digestive system a head start on breaking the food down, and eating slower gives your body more time to recognize when you’ve had enough.
  • Avoid talking while you’re chewing, as this can cause you to inadvertently swallow air, causing increased gas buildup in your gut.
  • Drink your beverages at room temperature, or avoid ice cold or scolding hot drinks
  • Sit up straight while you eat
  • Avoid drinking from straws, which again may cause you to swallow unnecessary air.

Help Bloating After it’s Struck

  • Go for a walk, do some gentle stretching or yoga, and move your body. Nothing extreme, but moving around will help stimulate your digestive tract and move everything along. Do what feels good to create some space and gentle twisting/massaging around your abdomen.
  • Drink plenty of water, especially if you’re bloated from overeating or overeating fiber. Not only is water simply important because your body should be well hydrated, but it also keeps your digestive tract well ‘lubricated’ so things move smoothly. Drinking water can also help flush out excess sodium, which can help ease the uncomfortable bloating sensations.
  • Drink tea, specifically peppermint tea, as it has been shown to ‘calm’ gut bacteria and reduce inflammation, easing the sensation of bloating. Dandelion Tea is also a great alternative and can act as a natural diuretic to help with bloating.
  • Try digestive enzymes, especially if you are sensitive to dairy or certain high-fiber foods. Helper enzymes like Lactaid and Beano can help you boost or support your body’s natural digestive process to speed things up.
  • Try adding some probiotics to your diet, this is good for your long-term gut health too. Probiotics can be found in most yogurts or any fermented food like Kimchi or Sauerkraut.
  • Try a bottle of our De Bloat Juice, specifically made with fruits and veggies that can reduce abdominal discomfort and keep your digestive tract moving

When Bloating Becomes a Problem

If you’re experiencing severe bloating multiple times a month, or it’s persisted for more than a few days, it never hurts to talk to a doctor. Reoccurrence may be a sign of an underlying problem or a food intolerance you might not know about. you may benefit from keeping a food journal and taking note of what foods tend to cause bloating most often.

 

 

8 Tips for the Perfect Roast Turkey

Thanksgiving turkey – for some, it is the centerpiece of a delightful thanksgiving day full of warm memories and family bonding. For others, it is the sad, dry, even disappointing result of a recipe that never seems to turn out right. With so many recipes, cooking methods, and potential for mistakes, cooking a whole turkey can be a daunting task, let alone cooking a whole turkey that actually tastes good. Today we’re going to go over our favorite tricks and explain the science of why they work so well.

Tip 1 – Start with the right Turkey

As you already know, we care deeply about the quality of the ingredients we use in our foods. The better building blocks you have to start with, the better the outcome will be of your finished product. Picking up a high-quality bird for your thanksgiving feast will already give you a leg up for a delicious centerpiece.

What do we mean by ‘high quality?’ Mostly we mean buying a fresh turkey, not a frozen turkey. Freezing a turkey can cause tiny ice crystals to form around cells, causing the meat to dry out more during the cooking process. Fresh turkeys will generally retain that moisture, which is going to help keep the meat nice and juicy. Fresh turkeys are also generally fed a better diet, are often raised free-range, and are often organic and antibiotic-free. We believe all of these qualities result in a better turkey for your table.

Tip 2 – Brine Brine Brine

If you’re going to do anything to improve your turkey recipe this year, you should add brine to the process. Rub it with a dry brine, and then refrigerate for at least 6 hours (or up to 24 hours) OR brine the turkey in a liquid brine for 12 – 24 hours.

What does brining do? Surprisingly a lot. First off, the salt in a brine helps to break down some of the muscle proteins in the meat, stopping it from contracting as much as it’s cooked, and the result is more tender meat that hasn’t squeezed out its own moisture. The second big benefit comes from the process of osmosis, where the salt first pulls moisture out of the meat, but over time as the meat and brine stabilize, the brine then begins to penetrate the semi-permeable cell walls of the meat reintroducing moisture back into the cell that will remain there to keep the meat nice and juicy while it cooks. Dry brine and wet brine both work the same way, but we personally prefer a wet brine for our birds. Regardless of which method you use, ALWAYS keep the bird refrigerated as it brines, and be sure to only brine for the recommended size for your bird. Over-brining is a thing, and trust us when we say it’s not something you want to experience yourself.

Tip 3 – Dry after brine

This one is mostly for anyone who went with the wet-brine method, AND if you still want that heavenly crispy skin. Once you’ve finished the 12-24 hour wet brine, remove the turkey from the liquid, and put it back in the fridge to ‘dry’ for another 24 hours. This helps give more time for the salt and moisture it absorbed during the brine to be thoroughly dispersed throughout the whole bird, and allows the skin to get crispy and golden in the final stages of roasting.

Tip 4 – The warm-up

Before your turkey goes in the oven, we recommend allowing it to come up to room temperature first. Obviously don’t leave it out for hours, but just long enough that it’s not fridge-cold. This allows the turkey to cook more evenly since the internal temperature and the exterior temperature won’t be so far apart once the bird makes it to the oven.

Tip 5 – Butter bath

Our favorite method for getting that perfect golden crispy skin is slathering butting UNDER the turkey skin before it goes in the oven. You want an even coast as if you were applying suntan lotion at the beach. If you really want to step it up, mix some fresh herbs in the butter before you get to slathering. This is a wonderful way to infuse some flavor into your thanksgiving feast.

Tip 6 – Trust us, don’t truss

This one is based on our experience and may depend on what kind of oven you’re cooking in. Personally, we prefer to not truss our turkeys (tying the legs together) We find that our turkeys cook more evenly when the legs are not tied, and the heat has a better chance of circulating around the whole bird.

Tip 7 – Treat your bird to a sauna

We recommend raising your turkey off the bottom of your roasting dish with a rack to help again with even circulation of air. But don’t leave the roasting dish empty, through some broth in there! Not only does this help create a moist environment for the turkey to cook in, but it also provides a flavorful head start if you’re planning on turning the drippings into the gravy (who are we kidding, of course, you are).

Tip 8 – Patience is key

No matter how hungry your guests are, it is imperative that you allow the bird to rest for 30 minutes once it comes out of the oven. Cutting into it too early will allow some of that moisture we’ve worked so hard to evaporate as steam or pool out into a big puddle on the serving platter. When you let the turkey rest, you allow that heat to dissipate and the meat will retain more of that moisture where it’s supposed to be, evenly distributed throughout the whole bird.

And there you have it, our top tips for roasting the perfect thanksgiving turkey. We know everyone has their favorite methods, and everyone has their own preferences for what they’re looking for in a roast. But for us, this process results in a juicy succulent bid that’s full of flavor, with a crispy golden skin that you’ll be dreaming about all year long. the process in time-consuming, but we promise it’s worth it.

______________________________________

No time for cooking this year?

Hey, we get it. Time is a commodity and every second is worth treasuring. And we absolutely get that not everyone loves cooking as much as we do (there’s a reason we own and operate a restaurant after all) If you’re short on time, or if you’d rather enjoy a day relaxing with your family rather than work in the kitchen, we applaud you for recognizing that and we would love to take care of the cooking for you.

Enjoy a delicious and unforgettable holiday feast without sacrificing your time and without all the fuss of cooking but ordering from our seasonal holiday menu. Whether you’re looking to go all out with a whole turkey or ham and all the fixings, or if you’re looking for something a little smaller for a smaller gathering, we’ve got you covered.

Check out the full holiday menu HERE, and be sure to get your pre-orders in before the deadline passes.

 

 

Animal Protein -vs- Plant Protein

Protein. It can be a big topic and a key point for some people’s diets. Unlike other nutrients, our bodies don’t store protein the same way they store other macronutrients. So you need to include protein in your diet on a regular basis to have the building blocks for growing and repairing your cells. Although obvious sources of protein include animal meats, there are plenty of plants that provide their own form of protein too. Today we’re going to look at the differences between Animal and Plant proteins, the pros and cons of each, and our recommendations to make sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet.

Amino Acids

To start off, we’re going to quickly recap what protein is. All proteins are made up of amino acids, or organic compounds that make up every cell. Our bodies require 22 different amino acids to function, but they can only make 13 of those by themselves, the other 9 must be consumed through our diets.

Animal proteins contain all 9 of these missing amino acids, which is why some have believed this is the better source of protein. However, there are many sources of complete proteins derived from plants. For instance:

  • Soy/tempeh/edamame
  • Quinoa
  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Spirulina
  • Hemp Seeds
  • Chia Seeds
  • Nutritional Yeast

We’d also like to point out that your protein does not NEED to come from ‘complete’ sources. It may be convenient, but getting your protein from multiple sources may provide other benefits, like a wider variety of micronutrients among all the different protein sources.

Animal Protein

As we stated above, animal proteins give you all 9 missing amino acids and are generally higher in Iron and Vitamin B-12. The protein in animal products is also highly bioavailable, meaning the body doesn’t have to work very hard to extract the amino acids and start using them. some animal proteins such as fish contain high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids, which are excellent for cognition and brain health.

The downside? Overconsumption of animal protein can have some negative effects. Specifically, the consumption of red meat has been linked to having a shorter lifespan and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. Red meats generally contain unhealthy fatty tissue, which is also not ideal in large quantities. That is not to say it should be outright avoided, studies show it may be best to consume red meats in moderation and go for lean meats like chicken or fish more often.

Plant Protein

There are many benefits to getting your protein from plants. In general, plant-based diets are linked with lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, longer life spans, lower risk of heart disease, and lower risk of strokes and cancer. These benefits come from having a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in the diet, which in turn give the body plenty of vitamins and minerals to function at its best. On top of that, plants offer a lot more fiber, which is hugely beneficial to the digestive system and overall gut health.

These benefits also come with some conditions. Although there are some complete protein sources derived from plants, the protein in those foods is less bioavailable in comparison to animal proteins. Again, eating a variety helps your body access the proteins it needs when it needs them. Plant proteins also won’t contain as much iron or B-12, so it’s important to make sure you include other foods with those vitamins in your diet as well.

We’d also like to point out that you can technically be on a plant-based diet, and still consume large amounts of processed, fried, or simply nutritionally lacking foods. Focusing more on ‘fresh’ and ‘nutritionally dense’ is better than focusing on if the foods you consume are plant-based or not.

Wrapping it up

So which one is better, animal protein or plant protein? It’s tough to say, and honestly, we don’t think there is a single answer here. We think it’s something that each person should think about while also considering any other dietary restrictions or needs. For instance, if you follow a Keto diet, it may be difficult to get all your protein needs from plant-based sources, while also staying within your carb limit for the day. In that case, we would definitely recommend including lean plant-based proteins in your diet. For others without those types of requirements, getting more of your protein from plants may be beneficial simply because of all of the other long-term benefits. The bottom line, we think it’s a personal choice, and one you should consider discussing with a nutrition expert or your doctor so you can find the best fit for you. One this is for sure though, keeping your diet balanced with a healthy mix of plant and animal proteins is generally a safe bet.

Food for Improved Cognition and Brain Health

Your command center, your noodle, your noggin, your seat of consciousness, whatever you want to call it, your brain is both a wonder of nature and a vitally important part of your ability to ‘be’. And just like every other part of our body, our brains rely on what we ingest in order to have the building blocks they need to function at their full capacity. Today we’re going to explore what key nutrients that specifically support brain health, and why they are so beneficial to our overall well-being.

Turmeric

You may already know that Turmeric can help with inflammation, but new studies show that this bright-colored spice may also benefit people with anxiety and depression by boosting serotonin and dopamine, and it’s linked to new brain cell growth, which may help delay age-related declines in mental functionality. Specifically, it is the compound Curcumin found in Turmeric that is responsible for these effects. Interestingly, this compound can cross the blood-brain barrier which means it can be easily absorbed into the brain to directly impact our brain cells.

Fatty Fish

Of course, fatty fish was bound to show up on this list due to its high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are used by the brain to build brain and nerve cells. Omega-3s are essential for learning, memory, and our capacity to control decision-making and emotions. Fatty fishes include Salmon, Trout, Tuna, and Sardines.

Coffee/Tea

There are so many complex compounds in both coffee and tea, and ongoing studies have shed more light on the long-term health benefits when consumed in moderation. Obviously, too much of a good thing can still have negative effects, but a cup of coffee or tea daily can contribute to better focus, improved mood, and increased alertness. There are also a lot of antioxidants found in both drinks that are also linked to overall improved health and reduced risk of neurological diseases.

Berries

Also very high in antioxidants, berries (specifically dark berries like blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries) provide many benefits to overall brain health. specifically, they are linked to increased communication between cells, reduced inflammation, delayed aging and reduced risk of disease, and better learning and adaptation capacity.

Oranges

We are mentioning oranges here because they are fantastic sources of Vitamin C, which is a key nutrient in preventing mental decline from aging. Vitamin C is also a natural antioxidant, which as we’ve already mentioned, can help prevent inflammation and the development of neurological diseases. You can also find high levels of vitamin C in bell peppers, kiwi, and guava.

Leafy greens

Hearty greens like kale, brussels sprouts, and broccoli have all been shown to benefit brain health. These ‘superfoods’ have earned their name from the high levels of glucosinolates, which have an antibiotic-like effect that can help prevent infection and disease. These greens also tend to be high in antioxidants that further prevent inflammation and age-related degeneration.

Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are another great sources of healthy fats such as Omega-3 fatty acids, which as we mentioned before contribute to brain growth and new cell development. But on top of that, nuts and seeds are also a great source of Vitamin E, another powerful antioxidant that specifically helps prevent the development of Alzheimer’s.

Eggs

Last on our list, eggs are great for brain health specifically because of the high concentration of Choline in the yolks. Choline is a building block your body uses to develop neurotransmitters that regulate mood and memory. Eggs are also high in B6, B12, and folate, which have all been linked to a reduced risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

 

Summary

The foods on this list are good for you in more ways than one, and always we encourage you to fill your diet with variety to ensure you’re getting a well-balanced mix of nutrients from many different sources. Always consult your doctor or a nutrition professional if you have questions about a specific health concern or diet change. There is no better way to support your whole body’s health that to listen to what your body is telling you and do your best to give it what it needs to function the way it was meant to.

 

 

Recipe for IG Cottage Pie

This Cottage Pie recipe is so scrumptious and satisfying! The filling is flavorful and the potatoes are nothing short of heavenly. You may be thinking this is strikingly similar to Shepard’s pie, and you would be correct. However, our recipe uses ground beef whereas Shepard’s pie traditionally uses ground lamb.

Some notes before we get into it: 

  1. We find it’s faster to boil the potatoes first, and the skin slides right of once they’ve cooled enough to touch.
  2. The salt and pepper measurements for the potatoes and filling are more suggestions than anything else. We know everyone’s tastebuds are a little different, so add more or less to suit your own palate.
  3. We use a mix of vegetables in the filling because we like a lot of vegetables for this recipe. But feel free to use whatever combination you like or have on hand.

 

Prep Time: 30 minutes 

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 6 Servings

 

Ingredients: 

MEAT FILLING:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 lb. 90% lean ground beef -or ground lamb
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot for gluten-free or flour if not
  • 3tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup frozen mixed veggies or anything you love ( we used corn, peas, carrots, & green beans)

 

POTATO TOPPING:

  • 2 lb’s of Yukon gold potatoes
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter -1 stick
  • 1/3 cup half & half
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • A few springs of fresh Italian Parsley for garnish- chopped (Optional)

_________________

 

MAKE THE MEAT FILLING

  1. Add the oil to a large skillet and place it over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the onions. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the ground beef (or ground lamb) to the skillet and break it apart with a wooden spoon. Add the parsley, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir well. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until the meat is browned, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the Worcestershire sauce and garlic. Stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the flour/arrowroot and tomato paste. Stir until well incorporated and no clumps of tomato paste remain.
  5. Add the broth, and frozen mixed vegetables. Bring the liquid to a boil then reduce to simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Set the meat mixture aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

 

MAKE THE POTATO TOPPING

  1. Place the potatoes in a large pot. Cover the potatoes with water. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are fork tender, 10-15 minutes.
  2. Drain the potatoes in a colander, and peel them once they are cool enough to handle, the skins should slide off easily.
  3. Return the potatoes to the hot pot. Let the potatoes rest in the hot pot for 1 minute to evaporate any remaining liquid.
  4. Add butter, half & half, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Mash the potatoes and stir until all the ingredients are mixed together.
  5. Add the parmesan cheese to the potatoes. Stir until well combined.

 

ASSEMBLE THE CASSEROLE

  1. Pour the meat mixture into a 9×9 (or 7×11) inch baking dish. Spread it out into an even layer. Spoon the mashed potatoes on top of the meat. Carefully spread into an even layer.
  2. If the baking dish looks very full, place it on a rimmed baking sheet so that the filling doesn’t bubble over into your oven. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes.** Cool for 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh chopped Italian parsley if desired.

 

 

Our Favorite Dishes and Dips for Entertaining – Great Taste and Great for You

We all love a great get-together, spending time with friends and family, and enjoying good company. And nothing warms people’s hearts and brings us together better than good food. And when we say “good” food, we mean food that tastes great and is also great FOR you. We’ve gathered a list of our favorite dishes to serve that will be a hit at your next gathering.

1. Buffalo Cauliflower

Buffalo anything is always a welcome addition to most gameday spreads. We love going for buffalo cauliflower not only for the added veggie benefits, but also to make sure our spread feels inclusive for our vegetarian/vegan guests. Can’t give up the standard buffalo chicken? Serve both, and let your guest enjoy choosing for themselves.

2. Plantain Chips

A wonderful crunchy alternative to your standard potato chip, and plantains are naturally higher in Vitamin A and C. Great served with any dips or even just on their own.

3. Sweet Potato Wedges

If you’re going to do potatoes, we say opt for sweet potatoes. Although potatoes themselves are not a bad food (honestly we don’t believe any vegetable or whole food is ‘bad’), sweet potatoes do have a lower glycemic index, which means the wont cause a sugar spike and crash like other potatoes might.

4. Black Bean Dip

This dip is packed with protein and flavor, and contains zero fat. Great as a spread, or a dip, and the creamy black velvet texture can be a unique eye-catching addition to any table.

5. Babaganoush

Another fantastic and flavorful dip, and because it’s primary ingredient is eggplant, you get the nutritional benefits being high in fiber, and relatively low in calories. Babaganoush is also full of healthy fats from the olive oil and Tahini.

6. Layered Hummus Dip

Who doesn’t love hummus? Take this classic dip to the next level by layering on crumbled feta, chopped cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and olives for a fresh crunchy bite that is sure to satisfy. Start with our classic hummus and add the toppings fresh before your guests arrive.

7. Tomato Bruschetta

Another classic, we love bruschetta for the bright color and flavor of the heirloom tomatoes. Paired with some fresh arugula, balsamic reduction, and crusty bread, you’ve got a combination that won’t disappoint.

8. Spring Rolls W/Prawns

Packed with fresh veggies and protein, with a satisfying crunch, and paired with a perfectly savory Ponzu dipping sauce, these spring rolls are a great way to as flavor and color to your evenings selection.

9. Farro salad

Yes, we’ve included a salad on this list. But this isn’t just any salad. We take Italian pearled farro and mix it with sautéed mushroom and onions, roasted bell peppers, broccoli, and arugula. toss everything in a simple red wine vinaigrette, and you have a salad that’s full of good nutrients and wont leave your guests hungry ten minutes later.

10. Chicken Montanara

We think this one already starts off strong with out organic free range chicken, but it really starts to shine with the addition of bright sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and artichokes.

11. Ahi Tuna Tartar

If we had to pick a favorite on this list, this might be it. The perfect combination of marinated Ahi tuna with the fresh cucumber and green onion relish is a great way to add a touch of elegance and uniqueness to your gathering. Not to mention this dish is full of good nutrients.

12. Flank Steak Skewers

These skewers are honestly so simple, but so perfect at the same time. Beautifully marinated with fresh herbs, and paired with roasted peppers for a flavor that is full and well rounded. They key is the fresh high quality ingredients that help keep this dish flavorful and wholesome.

13. Juice Shots

Whats a celebration without a few shots? We love these for gatherings as a fun creative way to mix things up and give guest the chance to try a concentrated boost of wellness in an easy sip. Serve them on a platter in tiny shot glasses, garnishes with some edible flowers or tiny fruit skewers!

14. Peanut Butter Honey Squares

Sweet and nutty, our peanut butter honey squares are good for more than a quick afternoon snack. These hunks of goodness can provide a satisfying bite to any appetizer spread, are go well with just about anything

15. Dark Chocolate almond Stars

The dark chocolate makes these sweets balanced, and they are perfect for sharing as each bite is already individually portioned

There are many excellent ways to host a gathering and plan a menu that is as nutritious as it is delicious. We love being able to offer these options to make it easy, so no matter if you’re planning a special celebration or a casual get-together, everyone can enjoy the moment while enjoying healthy, wholesome foods.

 

 

A New Definition of “Healthy”

We are used to seeing health claims on food packaging, and there are a lot of products that use these claims to mislead or bend the truth about the nutritional benefits of their products. Despite these claims often having a significant impact on consumer choices, regulation of these health claims is relatively new. Turns out that our evolving understanding of nutritional science is making waves and on Sept 28th, 2022, The FDA published a statement that may redefine what “Healthy” means when used on food packaging. Today we’re going to quickly review the new proposed definition, and help clarify what it means for our diets and habits moving forward.

Old Definition

The previous criteria for what is considered healthy was established in 1994 and set a maximum for fat content and minimum for daily vitamin content. This started the popularity of ‘low-fat’ foods that were somehow deemed to be “Healthy” despite high levels of sugar or sodium (for example, low-fat yogurts, or overly processed breakfast cereals). This also meant that healthy fats like Olive Oil couldn’t use the “Healthy” label because the fat content was too high.

What Changed?

According to the FDA statement, the proposed change means that any food with the claim “healthy” on the package needs to:

  • Contain a certain meaningful amount of food from at least one of the food groups or subgroups (e.g., fruit, vegetable, dairy, etc.) recommended by the Dietary Guidelines.
  • Adhere to specific limits for certain nutrients, such as saturated fat, sodium and added sugars. The threshold for the limits is based on a percent of the Daily Value (DV) for the nutrient and varies depending on the food and food group. The limit for sodium is 10% of the DV per serving (230 milligrams per serving).

What This Means

  • Under the new definition, the FDA recognizes that not all fats are created equal and that foods with high levels of beneficial fats, such as Omega 3, can now use the “Healthy” label. This means that foods such as salmon and whole nuts can be labeled as “Healthy”.
  • The new definition would also force manufacturers to modify their products so they contain more whole ingredients in order to meet the new standards for “Healthy.”
    • “For example, a cereal would need to contain ¾ ounces of whole grains and contain no more than 1 gram of saturated fat, 230 milligrams of sodium, and 2.5 grams of added sugars.”
  • Different food groups would also be held to different nutrient density ratios, creating a more complete picture of what “Healthy” means for different categories of food. This means that Grain-based products have a higher sugar allowance than vegetable-based products. (For more examples you can view a chart made by the FDA here: https://www.fda.gov/food/food-labeling-nutrition/use-term-healthy-food-labeling)

Ultimately, this new proposal is in alignment with more modern ideas of balanced health and nutrition. For years, nutrition recommendations have focused on whole foods, nutrient-dense meals, and minimizing processed prepackaged goods that contain high levels of stabilized, preservatives, or artificial ingredients.

If you’ve been following us for any amount of time, you already know we are huge supporters of fresh, high-quality, whole ingredients. We think this proposed change for what can be labeled “Healthy” is a positive step forward for consumer awareness, but ultimately it is still up to consumers to make healthy choices for themselves. Focusing on fresh whole ingredients, and knowing what works for your body and lifestyle is always going to be the most effective way to get the nutrients your body needs.

 

 

The Link Between Anxiety & Your Food Choices

Have you heard the news? A panel of medical experts recently announced that all adults under the age of 65 should consider getting screened for anxiety. The statement stems from concern that Americans as a whole have been experiencing stressors from all angles over the past few years, resulting in a growing number of mental health concerns. Despite some lingering stigma, new studies continue to show how important mental health is, and how it affects our lives on a day-to-day basis. The good news is, there are plenty of lifestyle changes you can make to help. Today, we are going to talk about changes you can make to your diet, and the science between nutrition, and your mental state.

 

Explaining Anxiety

Anxiety comes in MANY flavors. From Agoraphobia and specific Phobia’s to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, there are many different conditions that can fall under the umbrella of anxiety. Some forms are more obstructive to everyday life than others, and each person may experience different intensities of these disorders depending on a number of factors. The most common form of anxiety is Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which is what we will primarily focus on in this article.

Generalized Anxiety disorder happens when there is an imbalance between your brains Prefrontal Cortex (the part of your brain responsible for cognitive control functions and decision making) and the Amygdala (the part of your brain linked to processing emotions and memories associated with fear or threats). Under normal circumstances, your Prefrontal Cortex regulates your Amygdala and is able to manage any threat responses that may be stimulated. However, the Amygdala of a person with Anxiety often goes unchecked, and the Amygdala may generate stress or fear signals even without an obvious physical threat.

Essentially what this leads to is a consistent feeling of fear or unease. Symptoms of this kind of Anxiety can include elevated heart rate, flushed skin, tense muscles, inability to concentrate or focus, irritability, insomnia, and general fatigue.

 

Anxiety, Neurotransmitters, and Your Second Brain

Second brain? Yes, you read that right. Believe it or not, your gut is embedded with some 100 million neurons (more than what makes up your spinal cord or peripheral nervous system) and is technically called the Enteric nervous system. Although this ‘second brain’ plays zero part in any cognitive functions, it does play a vital role in our mental state and combatting a number of diseases throughout the body (no surprise there).

This system sends and receives signals from the brain, and secretes neurotransmitters identical to those found in the central nervous system (eg, acetylcholine, dopamine, and serotonin). These neurotransmitters are the key connection between your diet, your gut, and your mental health. Studies have shown that there is a correlation between your gut’s microbiome, and it’s secretion of these neurotransmitters.

Low levels of serotonin specifically have been linked to higher levels of anxiety and depression. For example, many anxiety and depression prescriptions work by blocking the reuptake of serotonin so more of it remains in circulation throughout your body. Going back to what we said about the Brain, higher serotonin levels help the prefrontal cortex communicate and regulate the threat responses of the amygdala.

So to sum it up, a healthy gut = a healthy gut microbiome = healthy levels of important neurotransmitters = healthy communication in the brain = reduced chances of unnecessary or unregulated fear responses = reduced anxiety and anxiety symptoms.

 

That’s great, but how does our diet help?

So we’ve determined that our gut health is really important, and the best way to keep our guts healthy is to eat a wide variety of nutrient-dense whole foods. Specifically, look for food with the following:

  • Fiber – Helps the body slow down the absorption of glucose, which prevents spikes in blood sugar levels and avoids sugar crashes.
  • Antioxidants – Helps to prevent inflammation in the gut and throughout the body.
  • Folate – Promotes production of the neurotransmitter Dopamine.
  • Vitamin D – Promotes production of the neurotransmitter Serotonin.
  • Magnesium – Promotes healthy protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation.
  • Fermented foods – The superfood of gut health, fermented foods are packed with probiotics, or healthy gut bacteria, that are essential to a healthy gut microbiome.

 

Foods that make Anxiety worse.

Although these foods don’t CAUSE anxiety, the effect they have on our bodies may mimic symptoms and make your existing anxiety feel even worse.

  • Processed food, and sugary drinks – an obvious culprit, as processed foods are usually lacking good fiber and nutrient density, while also being high in sugar, bad fats, and sodium. This leads to spikes in blood sugar levels and crashes where you feel fatigued more easily. They also provide very little, if any, nutritional benefits to your gut.
  • Caffeine – Often used as a stimulant to help people feel more awake, alert, or energetic, caffeine’s effects can quickly get out of hand and cause you to feel jittery, and irritable, and can increase your heart rate to uncomfortable levels.
  • Alcohol – Sometimes used as a way to cope with anxiety, alcohol’s long-term negative effects on the body can be serious, and often cause imbalances in bodily systems and sleep patterns.

 

Quick disclaimer:

As we stated at the beginning of this post, anxiety comes in MANY different shapes and sizes. And although we’ve explored how your food choices can help, it’s important to recognize that these lifestyle changes may not be enough in some circumstances, and we encourage you to talk to your doctor if your anxiety is disrupting your everyday life. Mental health is important, and we believe it should always be taken seriously.

 

 

What are ‘Macros’ and why should you care?

We all know nutrients and nutrient density is important. But are some nutrients more important than others? And how do you look at nutrients while keeping your long-term health goals in mind? We’re going to answer those questions today by looking at Macronutrient Tracking.

What are Macronutrients?

Macronutrients are the primary essential nutrients that we need in order to survive. They are called “Macro” because these should make up the majority of the nutrients that you are consuming. Micronutrients, by contrast, are substances that are needed in far smaller amounts, like vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes.

There are three macronutrients; carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Contrary to what many diets will tell you, you do need all three for your body to function properly. Luckily, there are endless ways to include all three within your daily diet, as every food falls into one of these categories.

CARBS

Carbs, as we’ve discussed on the blog before, are your body’s primary source of energy. When you eat carbohydrates, your body converts them into glucose (sugar) and uses this sugar either right away or stores it to be used later. Carbs can be simple and easily digestible, or complex with dietary fiber that helps promote digestive health.

PROTEIN

Protein acts as a building block for your body, helping you to heal injuries and grow new tissues throughout every system in your body. Proteins come from a huge variety of sources, both animal-based and plant-based. Every protein is composed of amino acids. When we ingest proteins, our bodies break the proteins down into amino acids in order to use them to construct whatever protein structure our body requires internally. Human bodies require 20 different types of amino acids, 9 of which we have to get externally through our diets as the body cannot produce them itself.

FATS

Despite being shunned by diets for decades, fat plays a vital role in vitamin absorption, protecting your organs, assisting with cell growth, and hormone regulation. Of course, some fats are better than others, and it’s important to still limit ‘bad fats’ such as trans fats, as they can quickly contribute to a number of health issues is over-consumed.

All three of these macronutrients should be included on nutrition labels, and macros for whole foods, such as fruit and vegetables, are easily accessible with a quick google search.

What’s the benefit of counting Macros?

To begin with, tracking macronutrients provides people with a more detailed and structured option over simply tracking calories. A slice of cake and a poke bowl may have similar calorie counts, but the nutrients making up those calories are way different. If your aim is to reach 143.75g of protein, that cake slice is unlikely to help you hit that target.

By tracking your macros, you’re more likely to make healthier decisions overall. But as we’ve already mentioned, it can help if you have specific health conditions as well. For instance, if you need to follow a low-carb diet to help with epilepsy, or a low-fat diet to manage cholesterol levels. Athletes often adopt a high-protein diet so they can give their body the necessary amino acids to repair and grow muscles while following a demanding workout plan.

How to count macros, and how much do you need of each?

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer for this. As with most nutrition advice, everybody is different, and the macros you need may be heavily dependent on your health goals. A good starting place may be to look at the Federal Dietary Recommendations:

45 – 65% of your calories from carbohydrates

10 – 35% of your calories from protein

20 – 35% of your calories from fat

These recommendations are based on the idea that Carbs provide our body with the quickest source of energy, but that may not be what’s best for everybody.

In order to start tracking your macros, you’ll need to convert these percentages into grams, based on your daily target caloric intake. For instance, for a target of 2,300 calories, your daily intake may look like this:

50% Carbs = 287.5g

25% Protein = 143.75g

25% Fat = 63.8g

You can easily find calculators online that will do the math for you. HOWEVER, If you’re interested in finding your ideal Macro targets, we HIGHLY suggest you work with a certified nutritionist to go over your goals, your lifestyle, and any underlying health concerns that need to be considered when it comes to your dietary needs. An online calculator simply will not compare to talking to someone who is able to look at all the factors that come into play. If you’re local to the Tampa area, we recommend reaching out to Pulse Personal Training and talking to one of their trainers to get started.

One last thing

Of course, you do not NEED to count macronutrients to follow a healthy balanced diet. Counting macros is simply another tool you can use on your health journey. We believe it can be beneficial to anyone who’s looking for a more structured plan, but for many people, it can simply be a stepping stone to help them break unhealthy habits. You may even find you get comfortable enough to eyeball portion sizes, or you get familiar enough with the dishes you eat most often that you don’t have meticulously log every meal. the best nutrition plan is one you can actually follow, and hopefully, one that brings you joy, because food should be something we celebrate. It’s important to cultivate and maintain a healthy relationship with food, and always remember that paying attention to what we eat is important because it fuels our bodies to perform at their best. When we eat better, we feel better!

 

 

The Nutrition of our Favorite Fall Flavors

Although the Fall Equinox is not until Sept 22nd, we are already seeing the early excitement for all of our favorite fall necessities. Whether it’s the seasonal return of the PSL, pumpkin-themed craft brews, or bountiful fall harvests arriving at your market of choice, there is an undeniable shift happening. Today we’re taking a different approach. Rather than sharing our favorite fall recipes (that one’s coming later, don’t worry), today we’re going to dive into fall flavors. What are fall flavors? Where do they come from, and what are the health benefits? In doing so, perhaps we can harness these seasonal trends for the benefit of our health and overall wellbeing.

What qualifies as a ‘Fall Flavor’

The Fall season is harvest season, as many crops and products reach their peak in late August – October. So it’s safe to say that many of the flavors we associate with fall originate from the seasonal availability of these fruits and veggies. Some common fall crops include:

  • Apples
  • Winter Squash (butternut, pumpkin, acorn, etc)
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Persimmons
  • Grapes
  • Cranberries

But this is just half the story, as we also associate a lot of spices with fall. In fact, the flavor we call ‘pumpkin spice’ doesn’t actually include any pumpkin at all. Pumpkin spice is generally a mixture of cinnamon, allspice, clove, nutmeg, and ginger. But you’ll also find spices like cardamom and anise used in various fall recipes as well.

The are a few reasons these spices are associated with fall. To start, spices used to be a luxury item, used only for celebrations and significant events. Despite the modern accessibility of spices, the tradition of spiced holiday foods remains, and two of the biggest US holidays occur in the fall/early winter time frame. In addition, these spices in particular are considered “warming spices”, meaning they offer a sensation of warmth when added to food or drinks. You can find a lot of references to this in Ayurvedic traditions as well. This brings us to our next point:

What are the nutritional values of these foods

Let’s start again with the produce.

  • Apples:
    • High in fiber, excellent for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, diabetes-friendly from the low glycemic index, and can contribute to overall gut and digestion health.
  • Winter Squash (butternut, pumpkin, acorn, etc)
    • High in beta-carotene, lutein, and antioxidants. Can reduce the risk of heart disease, reduce inflammation, and lower blood pressure. Have also been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Carrots
    • Excellent for healthy eyes can help to support your immune system, can help regulate blood pressure and blood sugar, and can lower the risk of cancer. The abundance of calcium and vitamin K can also strengthen bones.
  • Potatoes
    • High in fiber which can help balance cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Can also aid in digestion by providing prebiotic benefits to the gut. Also high in potassium which helps decrease blood pressure.
  • Persimmons
    • Rich in vitamin C and vitamin A, which help with immune health and vision respectively. Also been shown to be beneficial for diabetes prevention, and reduced the risk of heart disease and Atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries).
  • Grapes
    • Extremely high in many antioxidants, which means they are great for brain health, and aging, and reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Also great for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Cranberries
    • Also extremely high in antioxidants, and can reduce the risk of cancer and liver disease, while also boosting immune health and urinary tract and gut health. They can also be great for Oral health, as they reduce the amount of acid in your saliva, and keep it from sticking to your teeth.

    Just like all fruits and vegetables, these fall favorites are packed with plenty of vitamins and minerals. Many of these are specifically rich in dietary fiber and antioxidants, which means the fall season should be a great opportunity for us to manage our blood levels and our digestive health.

What about the spices? How do those benefit us?

  • Cinnamon
    • Extremely high in antioxidants, and can reduce the risk of heart disease and inflammation. Also excellent for managing blood sugar levels. Potentially help to reduce the risk or effect of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Also had ani fungal and antibacterial properties, and can help prevent tooth decay.
  • Allspice
    • Technically derived from a dried berry, allspice has been used to reduce inflammation, and treat nausea. It’s also beneficial for infection prevention, pain relief, and reduction of menopause symptoms.
  • Clove
    • Can help balance blood sugar levels, prevent bacteria growth, reduce inflammation and reduce the chances of developing ulcers. May also be linked to liver health and reduced risk of fatty liver disease.
  • Nutmeg
    • Also high in antioxidants, and surprisingly found in several dental products, nutmeg has been shown to protect against oral pathogens that cause disease and bad breath. Nutmeg has also been used to improve or balance moods, and can possibly help improve sleep quality.
  • Ginger
    • Ginger’s main bioactive compound is Gingerol, which is a strong antioxidant with inflammatory properties. Excellent for treating nausea and motion sickness, and has been shown to help with indigestion and menstrual pains. Also great for balancing blood levels, cancer prevention, and protection against Alzheimer’s.

We’d like to mention that although the above spices do have health benefits, it’s important to not overdo it. Specifically with nutmeg, as consuming 2+ teaspoons in one sitting can be toxic.

We’d also like to come back to a point we mentioned earlier, that all these spices as considered “Warming spices” This means that they literally have the ability to raise your body’s internal temperature, which makes them perfect for cooler weather. The science behind this is slightly different for every spice, but the knowledge and use of these properties are far from new. Ayurvedic tenets hold that our metabolism needs to work harder in winter to fuel the inner digestive fire and that warming foods and spices are needed to stay healthy, with balanced energy systems. In Chinese medicine, these are referred to as yang foods, which are responsible for the activation and warming of bodily functions that keep us healthy and facilitate the flow of qi, our personal energy.

This is far from an exhaustive list, and we encourage you to explore more information on each item if it interests you. We hope if nothing else this has encouraged you to appreciate the flavors of fall with a new lens, one that shows the rich history, tradition, and nutritional science of why these flavors are so popular as the weather starts to cool down.

If you’re interested in indulging in some fall flavors, follow us on social media to see what we’ve got cooking, and watch for our seasonal specials, like mini apple cobblers, and cranberry pistachio muffins (all gluten and sugar-free, as always).