Treats & Snacks, Back to the After-School Dilemma

School is just about to start up again and one of the questions I hear often is “what’s a good and easy after school snack I can feed my children?”

Good question.

First off, let’s define what a “snack” is…. dictionary.com words it as;

a small portion of food or drink or a light meal, especially one eaten between regular meals.

Now, let’s look at what a “treat” is….

entertainment, food, drink, etc., given by way of compliment or as an expression of friendly regard.

The reason I’m looking at the distinction between these terms is that we’ve gotten caught up in serving “treats” as “snacks” these days and believe it or not – too  much of a good thing is no longer a good thing!   The following are some examples of tasty and nutritious snacks:

Sliced apple with nut butter
Celery stalks with nut butter and dried fruit (the old “ants on a log” idea)
Guacamole with a spoon!
Hot dog – slices of nitrate, nitrite free, grass-fed only  http://www.grasslandbeef.com/StoreFront.bok
Pickles
Salmon Jerky
Roasted veggies – beets, carrots, butternut squash cubes make wonderful sweet snacks
Dried fruit
Plain yogurt with berries and a squeeze of raw honey or grade B maple syrup
Kefir “milkshakes” – blended with frozen berries
Hummus and cucumber slices
Olives

And, for the occasional treat –an abundance of help awaits you! Here’s to a delicious school year!

 

Vegetables Galore: Only Slight Deception Required

Your eyes meet your plate. Pupils dilate to accommodate a cornucopia of impossibly bright colors. Freshly steamed vegetables explode with oranges, greens, reds; a masterpiece that only Mother Nature could create. Your salivary glands prepare to devour a medley of beta carotenes, antioxidants, phytochemicals and fiber. Your cells hum in excitement for the vitality they will soon glean and use for healing and growth. Your teeth crunch, stomach delights and brain basks in nutrients that they long for every day.

Have I convinced you that you should eat more vegetables? Great. Now here are some easy ways to get everyone in the family basking in those nutrients, perhaps without even knowing it.

1) Chop Chop Chop

100% Dippable, 100% Delicious

When my husband makes dinner and is feeling motivated to get lots of veggies into our boys, he starts chopping like crazy. When vegetables are chopped up very well they seem to just melt into the background of a dish. We add finely chopped vegetables to eggs, pasta sauce, rice dishes, savory pancakes and basically anywhere we can put them. Just saute up onions, garlic and tons of chopped veggies and they are ready to go just about everywhere!

2) Let Thy Vegetable Be Thy Vehicle

Most people love to dip things. Consider using vegetables instead of chips or bread to carry your favorite dippables like hummus, black bean dip, salsa, salad dressing, nut butters, tuna salad, egg salad and more. If you put out a bunch of fresh vegetables in bite sized pieces with something fun to dip them in, you may find everyone standing around eating a saladʼs worth of raw vegetables without even noticing. I like to put out fresh veggies and dip when the kids start to swarm around looking hungry while we are
finishing up dinner prep. Venture beyond carrots and celery into jicama, broccoli stems (with tough skin peeled), kohlrabi, young beets sliced thinly and sugar snap peas.

Some vegetables can hold quite a lot of good stuff, such as romaine lettuce, cabbage leaves and the inside of a whole pepper. A seaweed nori wrap is an excellent carrier for just about anything — and is portable to boot.

3) OK, Hide Them If You Must

I am not really in to hiding vegetables since my goal is to teach kids all about veggies, however I admit, sometimes I just have to sneak them in. My method of deception – using the blender!

Many people are amazed to learn that you can throw a huge handful of spinach or kale into a smoothie and it goes totally unnoticed. (Itʼs amazing, really). Vegetable soups can be scooped into the blender, pulverized and then added right back to the pot (or you can use an immersion blender – a positively awesome invention!). If you’re feeling really sneaky you can add smooshed carrots to mac nʼ cheese or spinach to brownies. 🙂

5) A Vegetable by Any Other Name is Still a Vegetable

Sometimes vegetables can act like something else all together. Here are some fun examples:

Cali-Mash – Use cauliflower instead of potatoes for a creamy “mashed potato” experience.

Green Chips – Baked kale chips are a favorite snack of many kids. Simply strip the kale into pieces, toss in olive oil and salt and bake for about 20 minutes. The little ones will devour a whole head of kale before your eyes!

Fiesta Pasta – I just named this one last night since we made it with a mexican enchilada sauce, but any sauce will do. This is a genius one- you use raw zucchini, shaved into long strips with a peeler and voila, you have zucchini noodles! They can be eaten raw or slightly cooked with your sauce of choice. Our kids slurp them all up just like their beloved pasta.

 

 

Image courtesy NorwichNuts

Nutrition Mission: Improve your Health through Food

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When you hear the word “nutrition,” what comes to mind for you? The FDA food pyramid?  A bottle of vitamin and mineral pills?  Your mother telling you can’t leave the table until you’ve eaten all your spinach?  Commonly, when we think of nutrition we think “borrrrring!”  We think of the foods we should be eating rather than the foods we are eating.

Nutrition is not about our diet.  While our diet plays a very important role in our nutrition – it is more about the interaction of the food we eat with our unique physiology.  So, when we think of a healthy diet it is important to remember that there is no public policy that can dictate what a perfect diet is – simply because we are all individuals.  What is important is finding what the perfect diet is for you.

It is not always easy to make the connection between what you eat and how you feel.  We are very adept in this country at shutting up our symptoms – if we have a headache we take a couple of aspirin, a body ache has us reaching for a bottle of ibuprofen.  Acid reflux or GERD is soothed with antacids – and even our red, itchy dry eyes are treated with fake tears!  Symptoms are no longer considered to be the body’s way of communicating  – they’re conditions that must be relieved so that we can ignore them a while longer.

The problem with ignoring a symptom, however, is that it doesn’t go away – it just gets louder and more demanding.  Treating your symptoms is a temporary, though sometimes necessary fix – but if you want to achieve optimal health and vitality you have to get to the root cause of the problem. This often begins with our food.

If a food is not nourishing your body then it is creating a stress.  For example, an egg is considered a very healthy food – in fact, it has been called the “perfect” food.  It contains everything to begin a life with.  However, if your particular physiology reacts to egg as an allergen then it is far from a healthy food for you.  Symptoms of fatigue, gas, bloating, achiness, headache, etc. have been reported from people who are sensitive to egg protein, but if you are not looking for the connection you might easily attribute these symptoms to something entirely different.  The key is in finding the foods that create “chronic” stress in the body and eliminate them from your diet.  In so doing – you are relieving your body of dealing with unnecessary and unseen stress that can eventually lead to disease.

The other component to the nutrition question is how well your digestive system is working.   We need to have sufficient stomach acid to break down protein, adequate salivary and pancreatic enzymes to process carbohydrates and healthy amounts of smooth flowing bile to emulsify fat for absorption.  If any of these systems are compromised or out of balance we will experience problems such as acid reflux, bloating, gas, undigested food in the stool and malnutrition, to name a few. If any of these symptoms sound familiar then you should probably take heed. Most of us have experienced digestive disorders at one time or another – what we are concerned with are the chronic issues that lead to problems.

The following is a list of things that you can do to improve your nutrition:

• Digestion starts before we even eat.  Spending time with our food in the preparation, cooking, seasoning, smelling and tasting all combine to get the body ready to receive nourishment.  The brain plays a key role in proper digestion.

• In school we were taught that digestion is a “north to south” process.  If you have something going on in the southern region of your body – it most likely started farther up the line.  One of the best things you can do to aid proper digestion is chew your food.  Make a conscious effort to chew each bite at least 20 times – it’s not easy!  Many of us eat on the run – short lunches and hurried meals throughout the day so we get used to “wolfing” down our food in large un-chewed quantities.  Becoming more mindful of the chewing process benefits us in so many ways.

• Relax and enjoy meal time.  There’s wisdom in traditions and saying grace is no exception.  Close your eyes, take a deep breath and feel gratitude for the food, your healthy body and even the people you may be eating with.  This puts your body in the receiving mode and allows you to get the most nutrition from your effort.

• I’m a big fan of the food writer Michael Pollan, author of Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food and Botany of Desire.  I like when he says “It’s no longer what we eat – it’s what we eat, eats.”  Think about that for a minute.   His point is that making healthy food choices goes deeper than just choosing the so-called “healthy” food over the “unhealthy” food.  We need to consider where that food came from, how it was produced or raised, cultivated, fed and harvested.  What fertilizers/pesticides may have been used.  How the animal was fed and treated.  This all contributes to the nutritional content and quality of your food.

• Take the steps to find out what your perfect diet is.  We put most, if not all of our patients here at the clinic through the Elimination Diet. This is where we take all of the most common allergens out of the diet for period of time and then systematically re-introduce them to discover symptoms associated with each food.  The purpose is to definitively know which foods are nourishing for your body, which foods are not – and what it feels like for you.

• Keep your digestive system as healthy as you can.  You can create the perfect diet– but  if you’re not digesting properly it won’t do you much good.  Pay attention to your symptoms of bloating, brain fog, headaches and body aches.  Follow some routines to give yourself better health such as a liver cleanse a couple of times a year, a good exercise program to help your body release toxins and burn up stored energy and one of the best things of all – learn to cook!

 

Image courtesy Bethd821

 

The Blood Sugar Roller coaster (This is one ride you don’t want your kids to get on)

Our brain’s primary fuel source is sugar (glucose). When our blood sugar gets low- the brain cries “FEED ME NOW!” and will stop at nothing to be satiated. This will make a sensible person eat half of a birthday cake at the office before coming up for air and realizing what she has done.

When kids eat a high carbohydrate meal (plain noodles, bread with jelly, pancakes with syrup) or too many sweets (soda, candy), they will get the sugar HIGH and then the sugar CRASH.

First their blood sugar will climb the roller coaster, sending them into hyperactivity. The body wants to keep the sugar level in control so it will pump out insulin to bring it back down. Large amounts of insulin will quickly drop blood sugar and even overcompensate, causing blood sugar to fall below the balanced level. The brain detects this and in an effort to survive starts the process over again with a dramatic call for “MORE FOOD NOW!”

When glucose levels drop too low, we crave more sugar instead of a healthy salad or sandwich. It also makes us feel irritable, unable to concentrate and fatigued. Many kids actually ride this roller coaster all day long! The extra glucose being removed from the blood gets put away in storage for future use, this leads to weight gain if it goes unused. Over time, with high glucose and insulin in the blood, the cells become resistant to insulin – the cause of type 2 diabetes (no longer called “adult onset” because we are seeing it in kids now!). Obesity and diabetes are on the rise in US children and can often be prevented with smarter food choices and exercise. Continue reading “The Blood Sugar Roller coaster (This is one ride you don’t want your kids to get on)”

New Year’s Resolution: Join the Nature Cures Clinic group cleanse!

Welcome to the Nature Cures Clinic Group Cleanse and Elimination Diet Program – A program designed to address the most common causes of chronic health issues.

We’ve found that the underlying causes of many of our patients’ health problems are due to toxins in the system. Toxins are not just what we take in from our environment through food, cleaning agents, water and air – but can be created internally too from hormone imbalances, food allergies and stress.

To address these issues we’ve designed a program that combines the benefits of a metabolic cleanse with the Elimination Diet – allowing you to get the most from both efforts by 1) detoxing the liver (and thereby “cleaning the slate” for the elimination diet to be most effective) and 2) using a 9-day cleanse the first week of the elimination diet, which cuts down on the amount of time you are on the diet!

It’s easy as 1…2…3! Continue reading “New Year’s Resolution: Join the Nature Cures Clinic group cleanse!”

Naturopathic Prevention of Swine Flu

The mainstream media and most conventional physicians would have you believe that the only way to prevent swine flu is by getting a shot. Nonsense! Healthy immune systems have been protecting people from infectious diseases for many thousands of years. Our immune systems didn’t lose this ability in the last few decades, but the key is to have a healthy immune system. Continue reading “Naturopathic Prevention of Swine Flu”

Reform Health Care, and Start With Your Own

A substantial overhaul of our national disease management system is now highly unlikely. What we will get is possibly an alteration in its financing. Perhaps insurance companies will form cooperatives, perhaps the government will pay for the treatment of more currently uninsured individuals, perhaps some costs will be contained with malpractice reform.

And of course, those changes are desperately needed. Medical bills are, by a large margin, the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States. It is a strong testament to the fundamental flaws of our system that two-thirds of those filing bankruptcy due to medical bills had health insurance.

Meaningful health care reform may not happen at the national level for many decades to come. However, there’s another way to reform health care in this country. It’s not reform that starts at the top level of government and trickles down to individuals. It is reform that starts with each individual. And someday, eventually, it might just trickle all the way up to the top. Continue reading “Reform Health Care, and Start With Your Own”

Blood Analysis – How it can improve your health

Did you know that many symptoms may be the result of nutritional imbalances? When key nutrients become deficient, many metabolic processes are affected.

The body many initially try to compensate for such imbalances. However, if they are prolonged, they may contribute to hormonal issues, metabolic disorders, increase in toxic load, oxidative stress, organ weakness, etc.

The latest scientific research can help to identify a person’s nutritional needs and customize an effective regimen of nutrients. The cornerstone of an effective health strategy is a nutritional and lifestyle plan that is based on your biochemistry. What your body needs is revealed in your BLOOD TEST! Continue reading “Blood Analysis – How it can improve your health”

Antioxidant Power of Purple Corn

Chances are you’ve heard about the health value of blueberries.

With their deep blue color, they’re high in anthocyanins, a form of flavonoids . The flavonoids found in blueberries may provide protection against disease by upping the antioxidant defenses in the body.

As you may or may not know, Nature Cures Clinic is now on Twitter; you can find us here. That’s where our followers can ask us their health and nutrition questions, and we do our best to deliver. Recently, one follower asked us about the health value of purple corn, and its role in fighting cancer. They wanted to know if purple corn could pack the same punch as their favorite blue fruit.

Here’s what we told them: Continue reading “Antioxidant Power of Purple Corn”

Growing Smarter Kids

A Canadian study found that eating more fruits and vegetables was associated with better academic performance among high schoolers.
A second study looked at brain performance in children 6 to 14 years old before and after one year of taking a multivitamin/mineral supplement. The results are hardly surprising: there was a significant improvement on two different attention tasks than kids not taking the supplements.
Ironically, what are the most commonly prescribed medications for school aged children? Of course they are medications for attention deficit. How much more sensible would it be to supplement these kids with multivitamins than to “supplement” them with pharmaceuticals?

Recent Asthma Studies

About 20 million adults in the US have been diagnosed with asthma, and another 9 million children under the age of 18 have gotten the diagnosis. If anything could cut the risk of an asthma attack in half, that should be big news. And that’s exactly what a recent study found.

A study involving almost 55,000 women in France found that asthma attacks were almost twice as likely to occur when the women ate a “Western” diet. For this study, a Western diet meant eating cured meats, pizza, desserts, etc., the kinds of foods that make up a “standard American diet.” Women eating this type of diet were 79% more likely to have asthma attacks than women eating diets high in fruits and vegetables.

At Nature Cures Clinic we find that not just asthma, but a whole range of other symptoms and conditions resolve once people switch to a healthy diet. This means not simply eating more fruits and vegetables, but also identifying and eliminating food allergens. If you are interested in working with a naturopathic physician to develop a diet plan that is right for you, call our clinic at 503-287-4970 or send us an email at info@naturecuresclinic.com.

Naturopathic Views on Diet and Nutrition

Listen to Diet and Nutrition Podcast

Dr. Greg explain how our nutrition and diet affects things like inflammation, which has been linked to almost every chronic disease.  They will also discuss how you can eat in a way that will promote optimal digestion, an important component of a healthy body.

Plant Sterols, Fish Oil and Cardiovascular Disease

A combination of two supplements can significantly improve total
cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL and LDL. Published in the Journal of
Nutrition, this study looked at 60 individuals with elevated lipids.
Those individuals who were given a combination of plant sterols and
omega-3 oils experienced a significant improvement in their lipid
profiles. Specifically, their total cholesterol dropped by over 13%,
their triglycerides fell by 25%, their LDL (“bad”) cholesterol fell by
over 12% and their HDL (“good”) cholesterol rose by over 8%.

These are precisely the changes that physicians want to see for
lowering an individual’s risk of cardiovascular disease.