Thursday, August 14, 2014

Forget Juice Cleanses Eat Bagels Instead

Paleo mini bagel with wild salmon, kale and cashew cheese, seriously?
When it comes to nutrition and exercise, I am willing to try almost anything. Weird ingredients, provided they aren’t synthetic, don’t scare me. And I’m not against the somewhat-extreme experiment either. I believe in mixing things up but there are ways I prefer to “mix”.  I’ve done juice cleanses but they don’t work best for me. They’re generally more sugar than I’m used to and as Carolyn, often my partner in cleansing, says, “we like to chew”. I have enjoyed Pure Food and Wine “not justa juice cleanse” and The Squeeze’s version; I can eat like a vegan for a few days but I do feel my best with eggs and fish in my life. Enter Food Matters.

curry roasted chicken with southwestern slaw
I cook and can plan a daily menu but sometimes I need a break from thinking and cooking and eating out and cocktails and so this week it’s been all Food Matters for me.  I’ve written about Food Matters before. I call Tricia, FM founder, a nutrition magician. It’s not only that their food is gluten free and dairy free and organic but it’s creative. I find a few days of this helps me with the following:

No more nibbles
I’m pretty organized but the few nuts or olives or samples around the office find their way into my mouth. With FM I’m eating 9am, noon (when I can wait), 3pm, and then ideally dinner early thought two nights a week are later due to my office hours. I don’t look for extras.

Protein portions
I usually say most people don’t overeat on lean protein and it’s true. On client’s lists of trigger foods where nuts and chips and cheese and sweets live, wild salmon isn’t often on there. But it is for me, I cook extra protein and I’m a protein person. Resetting my brain to see a more petite portion is useful. You see, with our weight nothing is really “free”.

Drying out and Hydrating
I’ve mentioned this over the summer, I’m not someone who generally is out every night or drinking every night and I prefer it that way.  So this week has been “dry” but at the same time I am hydrating (I think in those moments I would usually open the fridge).

For more information on Food Matters, check out their website. Tell them we sent you (and they’ll be sure to keep things strict, ha).  And because everyone asked about the paleo bagels I posted, here is the recipe.

Are you a cleanse or food delivery person? What do you do when you try to tighten things up?

Monday, August 11, 2014

What I bring away with me

I have fun prepping clients for their vacations. In order to figure out a game plan I need to know how long they’ll be away, whether they’ll be staying in a hotel or a house and how they typically eat when away. And since we refer to ourselves as “nutrition troubleshooters” I like to think that no challenge is too great. Weight restrictions for your baggage? We know which snacks are the easiest to pack (chia bars work well). Flying for almost 24 hours? We’ve done that as well and we never bank on refueling during a layover…you never know. However, like the cobbler’s children (who have no shoes) it’s easy for me to get suckered into “I know what to do” and to end up winging it, which never works.
This weekend I put together some of my tried and true favorites. I always bring a Nutcase and nuts to refill it with. I know jerky isn’t for everyone but I find protein, that is protein without added hormones and antibiotics, isn’t easy to come by so I like the Real Sticks. I like bars for travel; Marc and I have been loving the Jalapeno “Strong” Kind bars.  And just in case I put in something sweet, in this case one of our Dark Chocolate Coconut cups. We developed the Food FirstAid Kit Pouches so that your snacks, tea bags and other “secret weapons” are all in one place. We also put together this video on how to pack your kitcomplete with bloopers at the end. The golden snack rule is 1 item per day away.

As you go away (or if you’re already away), remember I’m here via Twitter @Foodtrainers so you can Tweet it Don’t Eat It #TIDEI when tempted. And on Instagram show me your travel snack stash with the hashtag #Foodtrainers for a chance to win our Summer Sampler Kit (complete with on-the-go metabolism boosting contents).

I was going to say “happy trails” but for some reason googled. Seriously Urban Dictionary, does every saying have some gross bodily reference?
Save travels, there.

What goes in your Food First Aid Kit? What’s the most difficult part of staying healthy when away? Did you know what happy trails meant?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Need to look better ASAP? Try this recipe

I don’t know about you but about this time every summer I start to feel like a before picture. You know what I mean, in all those fitness makeovers there’s the mushy, slouched “before” and then the lean and proud after? There are just so many restaurant meals and glasses of rose this rigid structured nutritionist can take before she cries uncle. If that makes me a killjoy, I'm sorry. But I’m guessing I’m not alone.

Where there are issues there are solutions and I have the answer to your debloating dreams. Carolyn and I posted a video featuring advice from the Little Book of Thin’s Drastic chapter.  So sad we couldn’t use the actual scary Jaws music but it’s still a fin watch.

In the video we featured this Drastic Salad with avocado dressing. It’s delicious enough to serve to houseguests but there is strategy at work with these ingredients. Try it and let's all be "afters" before Labor Day.
Do you find is easier or harder to eat well in the summer? What do you do when you want to feel better fast? Have you tried this salad?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Will this popular, healthy drink make you drunk?

If you’re not kombucha-conscious, kombucha is a fermented tea. It tastes tart and is slightly bubbly. It was been brewed and consumed for thousands of years. Kombucha is made using something called a SCOBY (which I thought was Scooby for the longest time) but stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.  And this is what results in a finished beverage teeming with good bacteria and good yeast yum yum.

I’ll admit my bias; I love the stuff. I first enjoyed the gingerade from Synergy, love the blue green from BKkombucha, the cayenne Kombucha from Heathade and most recently fell in love with the milder kombuchas from Organic Avenue. Everyone at our office is dying to try Buchi’s sea buckthorn kombucha. Buchi- can you help us out?

I have always been aware kombucha contains trace amounts of alcohol. But while wine is generally 10 to 14 percent alcohol and spirits 40-something percent kombucha usually is .5 percent. So I was shocked when a client came in saying, “I had a few sips of kombucha and I felt something, was I drunk?” I hadn’t ever heard that, I thought about GT Dave the Synergy brand founder who drinks a gallon or two of kombucha a day “like it’s his job” oh wait, it is.

Back in 2010 there was a blip for the kombucha producers. Many kombuchas were pulled from the shelves. There was investigation into the alcohol content. The more sugar in kombucha the more alcohol it can ferment. Generally speaking the longer kombucha ferments, the more alcohol produced. Companies looked at their protocols to see how they could eliminate the alcohol without compromising the benefits. You can pasteurize and “solve” the problem but in order to have the probiotic benefits, kombucha needs to be raw/unpasteurized. Companies found ways to reformulate their brews, probably changing the SCOBY in order to control the alcohol content. Generally speaking unless in recovery/AA or pregnant continue to knock back kombucha.

Detractors will say “no real evidence” but as a superstar nutritionist (who has been at this for way longer than I have) said on a phone call last week “for many things in our field there will never be studies.” Kombucha is helpful for joint pain (contains building blocks for glucosamine) and helps with digestion (many clients report reflux improvements). Ironically, given the subject matter today, kombucha’s beneficial effect on the liver makes it an excellent hangover remedy.

So why did my client feel loopy? I dug around, spoke to some fermentation experts and there’s something I was unfamiliar with called histamine intolerance. Some people react to fermented foods with symptoms that mimic drunkenness as they lack an enzyme called DAO that breaks the histamine down. You can read more about histamine intolerance here.  There are digestive enzymes you can use if the thought of avoiding fermented foods (which help with mood and cravings not to mention immunity and more) worries you.  My only issue with kombucha is that Lindsay Lohan loves the stuff, ick. Are you a kombucha drinker? Do you make your own? Should I try? Do you have a favorite brand? Any kombucha concerns?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hummus that will change your life and Giveaway #YOSA

We play favorites at Foodtrainers. On Monday we talked favorite frozen treats. We have our favorite yogurt, favorite protein powder, favorite tuna and favorite fitness gizmo. I’m sorry if you’ve heard about these a little too much but when I find the best in a certain category, I want to spread the word.  Speaking of spreads (dorky transition) up to now, I had not been wowed when it came to dips. The closest I came were these cashew-based creations but they’re local and hard to find. Then I was told about Hope Hummus.

What initially stood out about this hummus are the flavors. I first tried Thai Coconut Curry (heaven) and moved on to Spicy Avocado (also amazing). We’re currently loving the Sriracha flavor, which is also my salad dressing when I eat lunch at work. Oh and Hope is organic, non-GMO, gluten free and kosher. How’s this for a company statement “take a look at our ingredient labels, we have nothing to hide, and we are proud of what we put in our products.”
We recently received this via twitter:
I tried the Hope Sriracha hummus and love it! I just wanted to make sure the chocolate was not a dangerous variation #YOSA.” So first, in case you missed it Hope makes 2 chickpea-based spreads in chocolate flavors. We flipped over the dark chocolate coconut variety.

If you’re comparing these flavors to other hummus, yes there is sugar in these flavors. However, if you’re looking at is as a chocolate laced with garbanzos? We’re on board. A tablespoon on gluten free crackers or simply on a spoon is delicious and nutritious too. So in our “yay” or “step away” YOSA criteria, we’re going with “YAY” all the way. Sorry for the rhymes, unintentional I promise.

Hope is giving 5 lucky readers coupons for their products, which can be fount at Whole Foods Markets as well as Westerly Market and Fairway in NYC. In order to be eligible:

  1. comment below and tell us your favorite dip as well as what you like to dip in it.
  2. And tweet @Foodtrainers has a @hopehummus #giveaway retweet to “spread” the word. #YOSA

Just like people, we seek out companies with good values, Hope Hummus says,  "we want our dips and spreads to be a reason for people to stop and gather, share life, and spread good things." Agreed. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Favorite Frozen Treats 2014 Edition

If you’re familiar with Foodtrainers you know that it’s not enough for us to look at a label and tell you a food is “healthy”. We need to know what it tastes like. Every summer we pick a day for our Annual Ice Cream Test. There are many great flavors and brands we’ve tried in the past and we really like to bring you new ideas. First, we put the word out to our Twitter, Facebook and Insta friends asking for suggestions. Next, we scheduled an ice cream meeting to be sure we have scoured the city for the best pints, pops and shops. We narrowed down our list and devised a schedule for ice cream acquisition. The contenders were assembled on my desk. And of course we have secret ballots. Each flavor is rated on a scale of 1 to 10 cones. We didn’t share our conclusions until every flavor had been tasted.

For the most part, we agreed. Some flavors tasted “vegany”. Others were “too sweet” or even “too salty.” We fell in love with the texture of the stringy goat’s milk ice cream from Lezzetli. In the end there were three frozen standouts.

Culture Plain (9 cones)
I’m not typically a froyo fan. Part of it has to do with the cease and desist letter I received from a prominent company when I blogged about portion sizes. The other part is that, as I said earlier, if healthy involves sacrificing taste I’m out. Culture has great flavors but the original was our favorite. Culture takes both their ingredients and probiotics seriously and so do we. “There are absolutely no preservatives or additives.” Their product is made onsite from strained yogurt. They have both a Manhattan and Brooklyn locations. We found their kiddie size perfect.

Van Leeuwan Artisan Ice Cream Earl Grey (8 cones) 
This Earl Grey Van Leeuwan flavor elicited wows from us although, if I’m being hones,t our intern did say, “I thought it was weird” which is probably what we liked. It is unique and smoky and not overly sweet. And this is real deal ice cream but it’s made with organic ingredients. This is a treat we endorse and will probably indulge in again before the summer ends. 

Jolly Llama Banana Coconut (8 cones) 
We know our readers hail from many places outside NYC. So it would be pretty rude to make this all NY-centric.  And it just so happens Jolly Llama topped our taste test.These nouveau push pops are 80 to 100 calories, gluten free, dairy free and non-GMO and kosher. Though they are called sorbet pops we tried the banana coconut flavor which, thanks to the coconut, tasted creamy and indulgent.

What's your favorite frozen treat? Have you tried any of our winners? Which would you want to try?

*certain contenders didn't make our final list because of ingredients or sweeteners we don't endorse. For more info on what to avoid in allegedly healthy treats you can read this.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Drink your way to success?

Yesterday, a link to this story was sent my way.  The premise of the article is that in order for women to succeed in business they need to drink up. The piece was sent my way with the commentary “so sad that women feel they need to do this.” It is. It’s not as sad as people sleeping their way to the top but I’ve written before about bossy bosses. And so whether it’s “pizza for the team”, a golf outing (maybe drinks trump this option) or whisky this frat-style hazing is alive and “unwell” in corporate America. 

I first heard about this mandatory serious drinking from a client based in Asia. When I’d ask how many drinks we could plan on when she was out for work she’d say “a lot”.  When I’d clarify, “so four, five?” “She’d say “much more.” In many situations it’s not just that you must participate but that you have to participate with gusto. As the article said, “a couple Chardonnays over a three hour period isn’t going to cut it” or so it seems. I don't know what's worse the expectation that you have to overindulge or employees taking apparent pride in their ability to do so.

Peer pressure aside, I find it interesting that what you choose to drink makes a statement. “Drink things typically associated with having a penis. Goodbye Skinny Girl margarita, hello Don Julio.  As long as we’re being crass, I am a fan of these so-called “penis” drinks. I love a scotch or mezcal on the rocks but it does elicit comments. As long as we’re being crass, since when does having a vagina obligate you to order a Cosmo? If you've read LBT you know that these "dude drinks" are the way to go, of course I suggest one a night. It's a good thing I own my own business.

Maybe I’m biased but I don’t think you need to down a pizza, a dozen shots or sink a hole in 1 in order to succeed. But you may need to take a piece of pizza, order a stiff drink and go to the golf outing. I’m all for doing the best job you can but that has its limits.
What do you think of the expectation that you have to go “shot for shot” in order to succeed? Have you felt pressured, as an adult, to eat or drink something at work or socially? How do you handle it?