Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Are soup cleanses the new juice cleanses? Giveaway too.

I want to start by saying Carolyn and I love soup. We’ve also been fielding questions about soup cleanses. Nicole Chaszar, the founder of The Splendid Spoon,suggested we meet and taste some of her concoctions but OneSmartBrownie and I had another idea. We wanted to give a full day of “souping” a go. *

Our packages arrived and Carolyn messaged me “they look good”. All of the soups are gluten free and plant based. You receive five soups for the day a mixture of pureed and chunky (chewing=awesome). Always looking at the pros and cons of new regimes I was initially surprised that one soup had steel cut oats, another lentils and one was butternut squash based. As someone who has a fairly low starch, low grain diet this didn’t seem too “cleansy”.

The next morning I woke up ready to go. I scratched my head at whether or not coffee was “kosher” for cleansing but recalled Carolyn’s cleanse mantra “your cleanse, your rules.” I had my typical coffee. Revived and caffeinated I realized I had to transport the still semi-frozen soups to the office. I heated the butternut squash soup first (this seemed the most breakfasty) but also had to heat the mushroom soup. We have no microwave at the office and I’m totally against microwaving in plastic so the logistics of souping if away from home for the day is something to consider. A large ceramic mug  or class container is needed.

The soups are delicious and I was determined to “succeed” as we scheduled our meeting with Nicole/Splendid Spoon mid day. Nicole is a great ambassador for her brand. Every question we had, she had an answer for. The sodium? She will not sacrifice taste and these soups are significantly lower in sodium than other soups. The produce? Nicole prides herself on using local, seasonal ingredients. The calories? Less than 800 in the day (more on that later). The containers are BPA free and the company worked with an RD for this cleanse. Nicole herself will have breakfast and then use the soups throughout the day.

I was headed to my son’s piano lesson but made a quick stop at home for soup #3. I love beets and it hit the spot. It was one of our first chilly days and there was something comforting about the soup but this is when things headed south. It was a little after 3pm and I had a headache. “Starving” I emailed Carolyn to which she replied “I may overdose on saffron pills”.  I peered in my purse and saw one of the new bars we were testing for our store. I closed my purse and tried to listen to the lesson. No luck, I ate the bar without an ounce of guilt.

I know too well that once your blood sugar drops it’s almost impossible to correct it. I know a bunch of things I violated that day.When I got home I knew I had my kale/lentil soup waiting. Lentils have never tasted so good. But I wasn’t done. My boys were enjoying lamb burgers (lava lake, grass fed!) and I was jealous. And so I had one, it was delicious. Carolyn emailed from the office, she was eating nuts and later confirmed “it’s official, over cleanses.”
I debated whether or not to post but decided to go ahead with it. These soups, available on Fresh Direct, are fantastic. I am a protein person, I could see having the soup for a light, veggie dinner or a breakfast (a hot “juice” if you think about it) but I need my “dunch” as I call it. For me (or us) a full day was too much but if you want to give souping a whirl Nicole is giving away one to two cleanses. You can use them as directed or spread them out over a couple of days. Remember- your cleanse your rules.
Have you heard of soup cleanses? Have you tried one? What's your favorite soup? 
To be eligible for the giveaway comment below AND tweet the link to this post and @Foodtrainers has a @SplendidSpoonNY #soup #cleanse #giveaway 
 *Full disclosure Nicole discounted our 1-day soup cleanses.

Winner of Skinny Gut giveaway is Danielle, your book should be on its way to you.  

Friday, October 24, 2014

Sh*t $how

So sorry to have cut off the "We care" slogan, I show my "caring" differently
“How long have we been doing this for?” my friend Keri asked as we rolled our wheelie suitcases toward each other in the Atlanta airport. “A long time” I said but really it’s been at least 10 years we been going to nutrition conferences together. We need continuing ed. credits to maintain our RD (Registered Dietitian) degree and hey- we always manage to have a great time.
We flew in Sunday as our friend Ashley Koff was hosting a dinner at a sustainable seafood restaurant in town for fellow RDs.  The dinner started with us going around the room to introduce ourselves (always embarrassing when you have corresponded with people for years online and do not know their face from their twitter handles). We were also asked to say something we were grateful for. When it was my turn I said something about traveling with close friends but as I thought about it later I had a different answer. I am truly grateful to do what I do. I love nutrition, love counseling clients and writing, trying new foods and really the whole gamut. If you’re read my posts before I generally don’t gush a whole lot so this means something. It will also make you understand why what I’ll write about in a bit upset me so.
Dinner at Goin’ Coastal was innovative and interesting. As the chef, Seth Hendricks, introduced the courses he discussed where he purchased his fish and the importance of things like “day boat fish” as sometimes even freshly caught has been on a boat for weeks. We had hummus with hemp seeds and dolmades made with broccoleaf. Someone from EWG explained the upcoming food scores the group is releasing this month. This app will enable consumers to scan products to find out about ingredients and additives.
The following day was FNCE (The Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo). These are allegedly items dieticians should suggest to their clients or patients.
Here’s what we found when we walked into the expo hall

A little anecdote, I went up to the rep at the marshmallow pie booth and asked "how are these healthy?" She looked puzzled and said "um like what do you mean?" So, I said well it's a NUTRITION expo." I was truly horrified. I didn't go around trying to find unhealthy foods this is just a taste of what was there. I could count the truly upstanding brands on one hand. Where are the standards? How is this corruption (because that’s what it feels like) allowed? How are all these RDs paying dues and admission to an organization that thinks Tony the Tiger cares?  As far as the public, no wonder people are taking advice from health coaches and fitness professionals- would you take advice from an organization that supported marshmallow pie?
I’d love to hear from RDs, I’d love you to comment if you are as fed up with this as I am. I’d love (pipedream perhaps) to go to FNCE next year and see that soda is no longer part of a healthy diet according to the governing body of dietetics and nutrition. And if you’re not an RD what message is this sending you? 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Yes, I noticed Renee’s new face and I’m not agist

At some point yesterday afternoon one of my FB friends posted about the actress formerly known as Renee Zellweger (“you had me at hello” or Bridget Jones). I am not exaggerating when I say I didn’t think the photos were really of Renee Zellweger. The biggest change is that her formerly squinty eyes are now larger (can one get an eye transplant?). I found this all change sort of unbelievable, shocking and strange. What was equally insane was the backlash or should I say ‘facelash” that ensued.

Shortly after the photos were circulated, the in defense of Renee pieces rolled out. Time magazine told us to “leave Renee Zellweger’s face alone” to which I tweeted back “if only Renee had followed that advice”. And there was this tweet
“The ‪#ReneeZellweger outrage is another example of how women's bodies are seen as a public commodity to be mocked and shamed for looking wrong” I felt some sort of a need to rebut that one too. “Give me a break she isn’t being shamed for looking wrong, she is unrecognizable.” Others felt this whole surgery debacle was the result of her having been criticized for her looks but this was also a woman lauded for her looks on countless magazine covers. Are we really to blame for her NEW face? 

From Buzzfeed “Plastic-surgery shaming is thus tantamount to blaming the victims of this ideal for working so hard to achieve what we’ve told them, for decades, they must do.”
What’s with all this alleged shaming? Can we not notice something without playing the shame game? Renee went to a plastic surgeon- nothing wrong with that. She came out looking like another human being (not a less ideal human just a different one) I don’t claim to know the backstory here. Could it be a procedure gone wrong? Sure. Is there something sad about this distinctive face no longer existing? I think so. But this notion that saying anything about a public figure’s appearance is sexist or agist needs to go. I loved this comment on one of the posts “It's not "unfeminist" to notice a *whole new face.*
What do you make of Renee's new face, the media coverage etc? 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Bake it Happen: Paleo Pumpkin Brownies

Yes, the look decent but read on...
Last night, I was on my way home from work tired and hungry. I’ve had a couple travel days and as a result my office days are packed which isn’t a problem until the end of the day. I knew the boys would be getting home from hockey and they’d need dinner and I also had brownies to bake. My friend Shari started a campaign called Bake it Happen where you bake one of her mother’s recipes and in the process raise money for breast cancer research. One of the recipes is Judy’s pumpkin brownies.I had the tired thought “do I have to do this tonight?” and quickly reminded myself of Shari’s work and Judy’s battle. I was going to bake.

 I would’ve had an easier time if I stuck to Judy’s recipe but no, I insisted on making a gluten free/paleo version. I expressed to Shari my conflict with unhealthy (Minute Made pink lemonade on my recent Delta flight) in the name of disease research. Shari explained she wasn’t looking at things through the lens of healthy she just got such pleasure knowing everyone was making her mom’s recipes. Duh- of course.

Last year I somehow had an easy time Foodtrainers-ifying the banana bread recipe. Things were different this year. On Monday, I gathered a bunch of healthy pumpkin brownie recipes. The boys were off from school and we gave one a whirl. Pumpkin and cocoa and coconut flour, how could it be bad, right? When the consistency and flavor isn’t right, that’s how. The boys gave me the “they’re ok”. So last night was make it or break it. I didn’t have time to experiment so I used this recipe from the jaybird blog

The photos looked beautiful, the comments were positive and I liked the idea of the pumpkin and chocolate being separate.  As I prepared to bake the cocoa powder was on the tippy top shelf on top of a jar of almond flour. Rather than getting the stepladder, I attempted to pull down the almond flour with the cocoa tin on it. Of course there was a massive cocoa spill.  Half laughing, half crying I cleaned the cocoa mess and the cocoa out of the grout of every tile. When I finally got to work I thought about Shari saying no matter what Judy cooked every night. 
Ugly photo, messy counter I didn't have time to food style
I measured and I whisked. I followed the instructions or so I thought. 

When it came time to assemble the 2 batters something was off. I was to layer the chocolate and the pumpkin and “repeat” but I only had enough batter for 1 layer of each.

 I swirled the top with a chopstick (as directed) and felt pretty fancy.

When the brownies came out of the oven the pumpkin layer seemed a little moist. 

Ugh. I let them cool on the drying rack and cut them up. The boys were now asleep but my husband came in from hockey (yes everyone plays) and grabbed a brownie. I asked for his review and received “well I’d eat them”. He’d eat anything. I can’t even blame the recipe because clearly I am the only one who messed it up. Maybe my baking powder (which I never use) is old? Was I not meticulous enough with my measurements? I’m not sure.

You can try these (and let me know) or try Judy’s delicious version. It almost felt like Judy was trying to tell me something. I didn’t know her well but “just stick to my tried and true version” entered my mind.
Any idea where my brownies went wrong? Do you bake? Do you do gluten free or paleo baking?
On another note, earlier this week I saw a friend with advanced cancer and talked about breast cancer awareness month. Her concern was the percentage of funds that actually go to research, toward a cure not just awareness. She told me of an organization called METavivor that focuses on metastatic breast cancer. This is what Judy had and this is what my beautiful friend has as well. Please check out their site and Bake it Happen.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Do you have a Skinny Gut? We have a giveaway just in case.

 I’m obsessed with probiotics. The more I researched them for The Little Book of Thin, the more I thought that if there is a weight loss secret- this may be it. That’s actually how I learned of this cutting edge (and I do think that’s what this is) new nutrition book. Brenda Watson, author and TV personality, liked what I had to say about probiotics and now her new book The Skinny Gut Diet explains everything you need to know about probiotics. 

I was really excited to read this book. If you like to nerd out on nutrition and science, here’s your chance. For example,  gut bacteria are different for obese people versus lean. “Each of us has a unique balance of bacteria that protects and keeps us healthy or leaves us susceptible to disease. This same balance can contribute to either weight gain or weight loss.” However, as eager as I was as  I continued reading I was grew increasingly discouraged. There’s a discussion about how our bacteria are formed early in life. The best scenario is a vaginal birth versus C-section, breast milk versus formula and few antibiotics versus frequent prescriptions. Where did I fit in? I was a formula on constant antibiotics. I didn’t know whether to call my mother or my shrink…so I kept reading praying for an answer. Fortunately there’s a lot to be done via diet and supplements to make up for my early "microbial handicap" as Watson calls it. Some key points are as follows (for full picture need to pick up the book):
  • Watson talks of two key types of probiotics the L’s and the B’s. This stands for lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. The more of these in your gut the less likely you are to store fat and gain weight.
  • The Skinny Gut suggests, as we do at Foodtrainers, consuming one fermented food a day. Examples are kombucha, live cultured pickles, plain yogurt with active cultures and kefir.
  • Equally important are prebiotic foods, which serve as fuel for those good bacteria. These include asparagus, dandelion greens, garlic and onions (so you may need to choose weight over your breath, sorry).
  • In the same section discussing L’s and B’s there’s some intriguing info about probiotics and pregnancy weight gain and even the likelihood that children will be normal weight depending on their mother’s “gut” situation. So moms to be need to think about their gut situation.
  • Watson’s plan is totally grain free in the first stage (there are 2 stages). She completely kills the notion of “healthy whole grains” and feels the same way I do about gluten (blech).
  • Be weary of staying on reflux meds, specifically proton pump inhibitors, long-term. These “acid blockers” allow bad bacteria to flourish. One of the side effects of the imbalance or dysbiosis (great word) is weight gain.
  • And there are 4 types of supplements suggested using the acronym HOPE
                       H is for high fiber/fiber supplement
                       O is for omega 3’s
                       P is for probiotic (over 30 billion)
                       E is for digestive enzymes.

If you’ve been cruising along without thinking about probiotics and their affect on your health and your weight, this is a must-read. And because we love a giveaway. We have a copy up for grabs.
To be eligible you must:
  1. Comment below with your favorite fermented food (or least favorite)
  2. AND tweet out @Foodtrainers has a Skinny Gut Diet #giveaway with a link to this post.

Please share your probiotic 2 cents below, do you take a supplement? Seek out fermented foods? Would love to hear.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Charcoal: Yay or Step Away

Black Burger featured in Time magazine, more on this later
If you’re thinking there’s always something “new” in nutrition we’re supposed to take or use, it can certainly seem that way. I roll my eyes at some most things that come our way. I am reassured though when what’s old is new or there’s a long history behind an ingredient. Enter charcoal.
I was excited when CBS suggested this segment because charcoal had just come into my life. you see, I’ve been brushing my teeth with a charcoal powder. We’re also seeing charcoal pop up at juice shops with “dark detox shots” and charcoal lemonade.

So you know, I’m not suggesting you eat your BBQ charcoal. Activated charcoal is made when charcoal (from wood or even coconut shells) is heated with a gas to expand its surface area. It is this surface area (1tsp has 10,000 feet surface area) that’s responsible for its  “detox” action. Activated charcoal was used in ancient Egypt and by Hippocrates in Greece. The appeal of activated charcoal is that it’s like a sponge for chemicals and poisons; they adhere to it. ERs use charcoal because it creates a “prison” for drugs such as cocaine. The debate, if there is one, is whether activated charcoal should be used for less severe situations or every day use

Activated charcoal comes in powder or capsules. I love this one made from coconut shells for capsules and also this tooth powder. Charcoal doesn’t discriminate will adsorb meds (such as anti depressants) and vitamins too if you take it within an hour of taking them

Why would you use activated charcoal if you don’t have to cocaine in your system? First, as I mentioned you can brush your teeth with it. I would advise you to use a little and know that it’s messy.

Charcoal can also “adsorb”  (adsorb means bind) intestinal gas. A study found that activated charcoal reduces the amount of gas produced by eating beans and other gas-forming foods. If you’re feeling especially gassy try two charcoal tablets three times a day can help absorb the offending gases and help give your stomach a flatter appearance.

Water filtration and air filtration
Carolyn gave me this cool water filter as a holiday gift last year (yes we joked I got coal in my stocking hmn).The charcoal is from tree branches. It absorbs impurities such as chlorine and other water impurities In exchange, the charcoal sends its nutrients (calcium, iron and magnesium) back into the water And It also neutralizes the water's pH levels. Our office Ovopur filter  (may look familiar to some of you) is also charcoal-based.

Charcoal is great to travel with. It relieves symptoms of nervous diarrhea or traveler’s diarrhea 1 tablespoon of powdered activated charcoal up to 2-3 times a day between meals.  Swirl the charcoal in a glass of water and then drink it down; or mix it with olive oil and spoon it into your mouth.

I’m often asked what helps with hangovers. If you feel you’re likely to have one, try popping a couple of charcoal caps before bed. For any of these remedies I wouldn’t take charcoal too often or it can constipate you (and make your poop black). In terms of “yay or step away” or #YOSA I’d say yay but not every day.

And yes, the black burger pictured above is made with cheese infused with bamboo charcoal; I’d “stay away”.

Do you use charcoal? Do you take it internally or use it topically? Have you been hearing about it lately?