Show Your Heart You Care

Eat Red for a Healthy Heart!

A special thank you to PCRM for this great information!

February is American Heart Month! Since heart disease remains the #1 killer in America, it’s imperative that we all learn how to protect our hearts by making simple, lasting lifestyle changes that can save our lives. A plant-based diet has been shown to treat and even reverse heart disease in adults and children alike. If you need help transitioning to a plant-based diet, I’d love to help. Many of my clients have successfully adopted a plant-based diet and seen remarkable results, including: weight loss, lower cholesterol, lower blood glucose levels, lower blood pressure, better sleep, increased energy, clearer skin, and much more.

Whether you adopt a 100% plant-based diet or not, it’s important that you eat enough fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Take a look at the photo on the top of the page and be sure to include these foods in your diet as best as you can. Since cardiovascular disease (CVD) can be prevented and even reversed, we know that we can save many lives, just by sharing this information with others, and helping each other make positive changes to our diet and lifestyle.

Facts on CVD:

  • Costs the US $108.9 billion each year, including the cost of medications, lost productivity, and health care services.
  • According to the CDC, “about 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.”
  • Many CVD deaths can be prevented through simple lifestyle changes – wow!

The Journal of the American College of Cardiology studied 20, 721 men over the course of 11 years and determined that by doing these 5 things, these men lowered their risk of having a heart attack by 86%, as compared to those men who did not enjoy this diet and lifestyle:

  • Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes
  • Getting enough exercise – a brisk walk 30 minutes a day is a great start :)
  • Not smoking
  • Limiting alcohol intake
  • Reducing belly fat

Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

It’s important to know what your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are; if you have high blood pressure, it’s crucial that you work to keep your blood pressure under control. A healthy diet that includes whole, plant-based foods and contains a minimal amount of processed junk and animal foods will help to keep your blood pressure normal. Since cholesterol is only found in animals and their by-products, making a switch to a plant-based diet will help improve your cholesterol levels.

Manage Your Stress

I also believe that it’s important for us to reduce our stress levels. One of the ways that we can keep our stress levels low is by exercising! Find an activity you love and enjoy it :). This can be walking, biking, hiking, running, yoga, jogging, swimming, dancing – whatever you love, do it, and do it often. Another way to keep stress at bay is by meditating. I always feel instantly calmer, happier, and more grounded when I meditate. Be sure to surround yourself with people you love, who support and cherish you. There’s such beauty in friends and family who make your heart happy – nurture these people and the relationships that you have with them. If you are creative, express your creativity. Find a career that encourages you to share your talents with the world. Do what you love and you will feel fulfilled. As always, be grateful for what you have, and be compassionate towards others.

I know that the statistics on CVD can be frightening, but the good news is that we can keep our hearts healthy by enjoying a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes (eat your beans!). We also need to find an activity that we love and keep stress levels low by exercising, meditating, and developing positive relationships with people we love. Be healthy and happy!

Are You Addicted to Sugar?

OrganicBerries

    I love giving workshops and presentations because I get to share helpful information on how to truly lead a healthy lifestyle. I often make samples of #vegan food for people to try. I share research and scientific evidence that shows the many health benefits of switching to a plant-based diet. Some people will pay for a cleanse, detox, 1 month program, 3 month program, or 6 month program on the spot.
    For some amazing others, months will pass, and then I’ll get an email from them saying that they’re ready to make some positive diet and lifestyle changes. I love them. Something has shifted for them. They’re not resistant anymore. They’ve had an awakening. I don’t know if it’s the fall weather, the millions of sweets that are being passed around right now, or if there’s just something fantastic floating around in the air, but I’m getting tons of sign-ups for my 10-Day Sugar Cleanse. This isn’t a juice fast. You won’t starve. You will eat healthily, nourish yourself, and get rid of your sugar cravings.

 

In case you’ve forgotten, here are some not-so-sweet facts about sugar:

  • According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans consume 156 pounds of sugar per person each year (yikes!)
  • Sugar contributes to obesity
  • According to the American Diabetes Association, “adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates 2 to 4 times higher than adults without diabetes, and the risk for stroke is 2 to 4 times higher among people with diabetes.”
  • Limiting sugar in intensive care units saves lives (wow!)
  • Sugar interferes with the absorption of calcium and magnesium – two important minerals for our health

If you’re experiencing some resistance to making positive changes, here are some reasons to kick your sugar habit for good:

146 Reasons Why Sugar Is Ruining Your Health by Nancy Appleton, Ph.D. explains how sugar is damaging our health. Sugar can:

  • Suppress the immune system
  • Cause cardiovascular disease
  • Lead to both prostate cancer and ovarian cancer
  • Cause depression
  • Contribute to diabetes
  • Cause headaches, including migraines
  • Make our skin age by changing the structure of collagen

Read more about the cleanse. Sign up now. Break the cycle. Sugar doesn’t have to control your life. I can help you heal. <3

Testimonial: “Christina is amazing! She has a holistic approach that helps you make sense of several different systems going on at once– wellness doesn’t have to be as confusing as all the conflicting media would have you believe! Christina knows how to be healthy for the sake of actual health, how to end calorie counting and carbo-phobia, and how to respect your body with the foods you put in it and the activities you engage in (like yoga!) I’m so happy to have Christina as a healthy influence in my life!” – Kelsey L.

Do Carbs Cause Diabetes?

OrganicBerries

There’s so much misinformation about carbohydrates causing diabetes, that I feel it’s necessary to write this entry and share some truth about this non-existent correlation. I also want to say that while carbohydrates are blamed for everything from a spike in blood sugar levels to obesity, those of us who know the truth about healthy high carbohydrate diets need to provide people with information, sources, studies, and more. There are too many people who will subscribe to a high fat diet because it closely resembles their diet anyway. Of course if you tell people to eat butter, eggs, and bacon they’re going to get on board (especially in this country). But they’ll be signing up for constipation, diabetes, heart disease – including heart attacks, and more. And that’s not safe, responsible, or morally acceptable.

Dr. Garth Davis is a phenomenal physician who is doing an excellent job of taking care of his patients and providing them (and the public) with lots of helpful health information. He recently posted a long status on Facebook, which probably seems like a funny thing for me to share here, but it was packed with such amazing information that I feel it’s necessary for everyone to read this. I will include his many sources as well. Take some time to read through everything he included in his post and then enjoy a video from Dr. Michael Greger. For more information, take a look at the myriad of sources that Dr. Garth Davis provides at the end of his post, visit nutritionfacts.org, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, read through Dr. Dean Ornish’s studies on reversing heart disease, join me for a free 1-hour health consultation, and if you want to lose weight, and/or have prediabetes, ask me about the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program.

Here is what Dr. Garth has to say about carbs, diabetes, and fat: “So, this is going to be a long rant with lots of scientific references, reader beware. The cliff notes: carbs do not cause Type 2 diabetes, meat does! I will provide references at the end of the post.

“But wait a second” you may say. “My sugar goes up when I eat carbs, so carbs must be to blame”. You are not alone in this thought. Even the President of  The American Society of Bariatric Medicine thinks this way. He believes that if your sugars are low you are cured of diabetes. So he puts people on low carb diets, and in fact the studies show low carb diets will lowers blood sugar, go figure. But has diabetes been cured? Are they healthier? Low carb studies are very short term and use lab results as their end points, not end organ disease. They don’t prove that low carb diets reduce heart disease, they show that it raises HDL and since high HDL is associated with less heart disease they assume that heart disease is lower. Likewise, they assume diabetes is cured when blood sugar is low, but has diabetes been cured? Not at all. As soon as the patient eats a carb the blood sugar will rise. Why? Because they still have insulin resistance. So many people make the mistake of thinking diabetes is a disease of high blood sugar. High blood sugar is just a symptom, the disease is insulin resistance. This is why I see so many failed Atkins and protein fast patients.

So what causes insulin resistance. This is the big question. Treating the symptom and not the cause is the typical western medicine paradigm. We need to look beyond. The fact is the biggest consumer of sugar, the organ most affected by insulin, are your muscles. I find it ridiculous that people, like Robert Lustig and Gary Taubes, talk about insulin as some kind of awful hormone. Why would we evolve to have an evil hormone that is in every single person. Insulin is only a problem when the body is resistant to insulin. Insulin serves a vital purpose, which is to get the fuel into the cells, and muscle needs glucose to generate fuel.

Our bodies are built to live off sugar. Insulin is supposed to join to an insulin receptor on the surface of the muscle cell which allows the sugar to enter the body and then be utilized to produce energy in the mitochondria. In fact, the healthiest people in the world eat tons of carbs. The Sardinians and the Okinawans eat 80% of their calories from starches and yet their insulin levels are not sky high, and their blood sugars are normal.

So what causes the muscle to become insulin resistant. Well this is a little more complex but it appears that it is fat build up in the muscle cell. Excess fat entering the cells interferes with the muscle cells ability to produce insulin receptors. If the muscle cannot make insulin receptors then sugar cannot get into the cell and then the sugar starts to build up in the system. Then the pancreas has to produce even more insulin to try and force sugar into the cells, and now you start getting high insulin levels. Moderate insulin is good but high insulin inhibits an enzyme called hormone sensitive lipase causing even more fat accumulation, and a vicious cycle begins.

This then begs the question, “what causes fat to accumulate in the muscle cell”? Well, there are many theories. One is that insulin combined with lipids in the blood stream after eating causes intramyocellular fat. This makes sense. So if you eat steak believe it or not your insulin rises. It is also filled with fat. The insulin will cause fat to be accumulated in the cell. The same thing would happen if you ate a donut or a pizza. These are not carbs. They have carbs but they actually have more fat than carbs.

Other theories are that inflammation causes the muscle cell to dysfunction and not oxidate fat, causing fat accumulation. There is definitely evidence that acid accumulation cause insulin resistance likely from muscle cell dysfunction. Type II diabetes has been rising at astounding rates. How does our diet differ? We are eating a very acidic diet with too little of the bicarbonate producing plants as our ancestors did! Meat based diets are very acidic and cause inflammation which results in intramyocellular fat. There are even models that show certain amino acids will cause direct deposit of fat in the muscle cells.

There is some fascinating research looking at MRI’s of people’s muscles which show that athletes are able to mobilize fat easily from their muscle but overweight people cannot. This raises the additional question as to whether exercise has an affect on intramyocellular fat.

There is also a good body of studies showing high iron stores can affect insulin resistance. As you may know, meat is high in a particularly toxic form of iron which can further attribute to insulin resistance.

Interestingly, carbs are readily burned in our body or stored as glycogen. It is actually very difficult to turn carbs to fat. The only time carbs become fat is when glycogen stores are full and calorie intake has exceeded expenditure. A nutrition professor proved this by eating a high sugar diet but keeping calories less than 1800 calories. Despite eating almost purely sugar, he lost weight and his insulin resistance improved.

So if what I tell you is true then it should work in a randomized control trial and in epidemiologic studies of populations of people. In fact, it does. Dr. Turner-Mcgrievy and Dr. Barnard have put it to the test. They took diabetics and randomized to either vegan diet or the typical ADA, high protein diet recommended by doctors. Despite eating high carbs and lots of fruit, the vegan group had significantly greater drop in A1C.

We can see this in action in many different epidemiological studies too. The EPIC/Panacea study, which is the largest epidemiological study ever done on food and disease, found no correlation between carb consumption and development of diabetes, but meat had strong correlation to diabetes. In fact, fructose consumption was associated with less diabetes. This becomes more understandable when you know that meat causes inflammation, acidosis, stimulates insulin, and has fat.

People tend to think Type II diabetes is genetic, but diabetes is affecting all races at this point. In fact, Japanese had low rates of diabetes but if they migrated to Brazil, which is having a crisis of diabetes, they get very high rates of diabetes. In fact, the Brazil government has made recs to decrease meat. The same recs are being given by the Japanese government which has noted an increasing rate of diabetes with the increasing meat consumption.

One of the best long term studies is the Adventist Healthy study as they followed a large population for many years. The population was healthier in general due to lack of smoking and drinking and moderate exercise, making them an excellent study given less confounding factors. The vegans had considerably lower diabetes than the meat eaters.

Even Harvard’s Nurses Health Study, which is the largest and longest epidemiologic study in America, shows a significant relationship between animal protein consumption and Type II DM formation.

Let me also add that the randomized control trials and epidemiological studies, unlike the low carb studies, show improvement in end organ function. Less heart disease, less kidney dysfunction, less neuropathy, and longer life.

Most of all. Let me tell you that it is absolutely ridiculous to eat less fruit, as the president of the American Society of Bariatric Medicine claimed at our meeting. Studies show that fruit consumption does NOT increase A1C and is actually associated with weight loss and diabetes control. Studies show increasing carbs actually controls diabetes if they are whole grains, fruits and veggies!” There are so many studies that prove this point. I have included just a sample below.

(I put Dr. Garth Davis’ references at the end of this post.)

As Dr. Garth points out, “The Sardinians and the Okinawans eat 80% of their calories from starches and yet their insulin levels are not sky high, and their blood sugars are normal.” This isn’t a fluke. This is consistent with centuries of research and has helped people get healthier: high-carb low-fat diets are the key to optimal health. Eat your fruits. Eat your vegetables. Eat your whole grains. Eat your legumes. Whenever people adopt a healthy plant-based diet, they reap many healthful benefits such as weight loss, a drop in A1c levels, lower cholesterol levels (plants do not have any cholesterol – only animals and their by-products do!), lower blood pressure, less rates of prediabetes, diabetes, and several cancers.

You may have noticed that Dr. Garth Davis states, “There is some fascinating research looking at MRI’s of people’s muscles which show that athletes are able to mobilize fat easily from their muscle but overweight people cannot. This raises the additional question as to whether exercise has an affect on intramyocellular fat.” You may have also noticed that believers in a Paleo diet (or their warped version of a Paleo diet) are also cross-fitters. How much exercise does it take to ward off the effects of a terrible diet? It’s hard to say, if it’s even possible, as we see athletes who exercise frequently and with high intensity, but eat unhealthy diets, and then have heart attacks. Certainly staying active is good for you – but why not also have a healthful diet? Why flood your arteries with the very things that have contributed to this country’s gigantic obesity, heart disease, and diabetes problem? I’ll never know.

While a diet that’s high in some of your favorite foods (bacon, eggs, butter, beef, etc.) may be appealing, do not gamble with your health. The research has been done. We will continue to see the same results again and again: a high-carb low-fat diet is the way to go – do not believe the hype about high-fat low-carb diets. They’re just that: hype.

Enjoy this video from Dr. Michael Greger, one of my favorite physicians, as he discusses Diabetes and the many dangers of high-fat, low-carb diets.

Dr. Davis’ list of references:

Gimeno, S. G., et al. (2002). “Prevalence and 7-year incidence of Type II diabetes mellitus in a Japanese-Brazilian population: an alarming public health problem.” Diabetologia 45(12): 1635-1638.

de Carvalho, A. M., et al. (2013). “Excessive meat consumption in Brazil: diet quality and environmental impacts.” Public Health Nutr 16(10): 1893-1899.

Morimoto, A. (2010). Trends in the Epidemiology of Patients with Diabetes in Japan. JMAJ. 53: 36-40.

Adeva, M. M. and G. Souto (2011). “Diet-induced metabolic acidosis.” Clin Nutr 30(4): 416-421.

Souto, G., et al. (2011). “Metabolic acidosis-induced insulin resistance and cardiovascular risk.” Metab Syndr Relat Disord 9(4): 247-253.

Sebastian, A., et al. (2002). “Estimation of the net acid load of the diet of ancestral preagricultural Homo sapiens and their hominid ancestors.” Am J Clin Nutr 76(6): 1308-1316.

Dawson-Hughes, B., et al. (2008). “Alkaline diets favor lean tissue mass in older adults.” Am J Clin Nutr 87(3): 662-665.

Jenkins, D. J., et al. (2003). “Type 2 diabetes and the vegetarian diet.” Am J Clin Nutr 78(3 Suppl): 610S-616S.

Holt, S. H., et al. (1997). “An insulin index of foods: the insulin demand generated by 1000-kJ portions of common foods.” Am J Clin Nutr 66(5): 1264-1276.

Barnard, N. D., et al. (2009). “A low-fat vegan diet and a conventional diabetes diet in the treatment of type 2 diabetes: a randomized, controlled, 74-wk clinical trial.” Am J Clin Nutr 89(5): 1588S-1596S.

Barnard, N. D., et al. (2006). “A low-fat vegan diet improves glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in a randomized clinical trial in individuals with type 2 diabetes.” Diabetes Care 29(8): 1777-1783.

Barnard, R. J., et al. (1998). “Diet-induced insulin resistance precedes other aspects of the metabolic syndrome.” J Appl Physiol (1985) 84(4): 1311-1315.

Stubbs, R. J., et al. (1997). “Carbohydrates and energy balance.” Ann N Y Acad Sci 819: 44-69.

Bloomer, R. J., et al. (2010). “Effect of a 21 day Daniel Fast on metabolic and cardiovascular disease risk factors in men and women.” Lipids Health Dis 9: 94.

Snowdon, D. A. and R. L. Phillips (1985). “Does a vegetarian diet reduce the occurrence of diabetes?” Am J Public Health 75(5): 507-512

Tonstad, S., et al. (2009). “Type of vegetarian diet, body weight, and prevalence of type 2 diabetes.” Diabetes Care 32(5): 791-796.

Fung, T. T., et al. (2004). “Dietary patterns, meat intake, and the risk of type 2 diabetes in women.” Arch Intern Med 164(20): 2235-2240.

Jornayvaz, F. R., et al. (2010). “A high-fat, ketogenic diet causes hepatic insulin resistance in mice, despite increasing energy expenditure and preventing weight gain.” Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 299(5): E808-815.

Valachovicová, M., et al. (2006). “No evidence of insulin resistance in normal weight vegetarians. A case control study.” Eur J Nutr 45(1): 52-54.

Frassetto, L., et al. (2001). “Diet, evolution and aging–the pathophysiologic effects of the post-agricultural inversion of the potassium-to-sodium and base-to-chloride ratios in the human diet.” Eur J Nutr 40(5): 200-213.

Flanagan, A. M., et al. (2008). “High-fat diets promote insulin resistance through cytokine gene expression in growing female rats.” J Nutr Biochem 19(8): 505-513.

Cai, H., et al. (2007). “A prospective study of dietary patterns and mortality in Chinese women.” Epidemiology 18(3): 393-401.

Schulze, M. B., et al. (2003). “Processed meat intake and incidence of Type 2 diabetes in younger and middle-aged women.” Diabetologia 46(11): 1465-1473.

Song, Y., et al. (2004). “A prospective study of red meat consumption and type 2 diabetes in middle-aged and elderly women: the women’s health study.” Diabetes Care 27(9): 2108-2115.

Vang, A., et al. (2008). “Meats, processed meats, obesity, weight gain and occurrence of diabetes among adults: findings from Adventist Health Studies.” Ann Nutr Metab 52(2): 96-104.

Pan, A., et al. (2013). “Changes in Red Meat Consumption and Subsequent Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Three Cohorts of US Men and Women.” JAMA Intern Med: 1-8.

Ahmadi-Abhari, S., et al. (2014). “Dietary intake of carbohydrates and risk of type 2 diabetes: the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer-Norfolk study.” Br J Nutr 111(2): 342-352.

Lara-Castro, C. and W. T. Garvey (2008). “Intracellular lipid accumulation in liver and muscle and the insulin resistance syndrome.” Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am 37(4): 841-856.

Cozma, A. I., et al. (2012). “Effect of fructose on glycemic control in diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled feeding trials.” Diabetes Care 35(7): 1611-1620.

Azadbakht, L. and A. Esmaillzadeh (2009). “Soy-protein consumption and kidney-related biomarkers among type 2 diabetics: a crossover, randomized clinical trial.” J Ren Nutr 19(6): 479-486.

Sørensen, L. B., et al. (2005). “Effect of sucrose on inflammatory markers in overweight humans.” Am J Clin Nutr 82(2): 421-427.

Montonen, J., et al. (2013). “Consumption of red meat and whole-grain bread in relation to biomarkers of obesity, inflammation, glucose metabolism and oxidative stress.” Eur J Nutr 52(1): 337-345.

Barbaresko, J., et al. (2013). “Dietary pattern analysis and biomarkers of low-grade inflammation: a systematic literature review.” Nutr Rev 71(8): 511-527.

Muraki, I., et al. (2013). “Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies.” BMJ 347: f5001.

Ye, E. Q., et al. (2012). “Greater whole-grain intake is associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and weight gain.” J Nutr 142(7): 1304-1313.

Chiu, T. H., et al. (2014). “Taiwanese Vegetarians and Omnivores: Dietary Composition, Prevalence of Diabetes and IFG.” PLoS One 9(2): e88547.

Goff, L. M., et al. (2005). “Veganism and its relationship with insulin resistance and intramyocellular lipid.” Eur J Clin Nutr 59(2): 291-298.

Esposito, K., et al. (2003). “Effect of dietary antioxidants on postprandial endothelial dysfunction induced by a high-fat meal in healthy subjects.” Am J Clin Nutr 77(1): 139-143.

Jiang, R., et al. (2004). “Body iron stores in relation to risk of type 2 diabetes in apparently healthy women.” JAMA 291(6): 711-717.

Hua, N. W., et al. (2001). “Low iron status and enhanced insulin sensitivity in lacto-ovo vegetarians.” Br J Nutr 86(4): 515-519.

Watzl, B. (2008). “Anti-inflammatory effects of plant-based foods and of their constituents.” Int J Vitam Nutr Res 78(6): 293-298.

Chandalia, M., et al. (2000). “Beneficial effects of high dietary fiber intake in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.” N Engl J Med 342(19): 1392-1398.

Pickup, J. C. (2004). “Inflammation and activated innate immunity in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes.” Diabetes Care 27(3): 813-823.

Deopurkar, R., et al. (2010). “Differential effects of cream, glucose, and orange juice on inflammation, endotoxin, and the expression of Toll-like receptor-4 and suppressor of cytokine signaling-3.” Diabetes Care 33(5): 991-997.

Ghanim, H., et al. (2009). “Increase in plasma endotoxin concentrations and the expression of Toll-like receptors and suppressor of cytokine signaling-3 in mononuclear cells after a high-fat, high-carbohydrate meal: implications for insulin resistance.” Diabetes Care 32(12): 2281-2287.

Bao, W., et al. (2012). “Dietary iron intake, body iron stores, and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” BMC Med 10: 119.

Romeu, M., et al. (2013). “Diet, iron biomarkers and oxidative stress in a representative sample of Mediterranean population.” Nutr J 12(1): 102.

Cooper, A. J., et al. (2012). “A prospective study of the association between quantity and variety of fruit and vegetable intake and incident type 2 diabetes.” Diabetes Care 35(6): 1293-1300.

Rizzo, N. S., et al. (2011). “Vegetarian dietary patterns are associated with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome: the adventist health study 2.” Diabetes Care 34(5): 1225-1227.

Consortium, I. (2013). “Association between dietary meat consumption and incident type 2 diabetes: the EPIC-InterAct study.” Diabetologia 56(1): 47-59.

Watt, M. J. and A. J. Hoy (2012). “Lipid metabolism in skeletal muscle: generation of adaptive and maladaptive intracellular signals for cellular function.” Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 302(11): E1315-1328.

Coletta, D. K. and L. J. Mandarino (2011). “Mitochondrial dysfunction and insulin resistance from the outside in: extracellular matrix, the cytoskeleton, and mitochondria.” Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 301(5): E749-755.

Eckel, R. H., et al. (2005). “The metabolic syndrome.” Lancet 365(9468): 1415-1428.

Brunzell, J. D., et al. (1971). “Improved glucose tolerance with high carbohydrate feeding in mild diabetes.” N Engl J Med 284(10): 521-524.

Christensen, A. S., et al. (2013). “Effect of fruit restriction on glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes–a randomized trial.” Nutr J 12: 29.”

 

Should You Eat Walnuts?

WalnutstuffedDates

I run into lots of people who avoid nuts, because they think that eating them will make them fat. While nuts do have some fat, eating them will not make you fat. In fact, eating nuts, especially walnuts, may save your life. It’s no secret that I love Dr. Michael Greger – the fantastic, amazing, vegan doctor who always puts together videos that are packed with helpful information. This video from him about walnuts is worth watching. In summary, “not eating walnuts may double our risk of dying from heart disease (compared to at least one serving a week), perhaps because nuts appear to improve endothelial function, allowing our arteries to better relax normally.”

When I was younger, my mom would always take peanuts and stuff them inside of dates. When I finally tried them, I loved them! I use walnuts instead of peanuts and this treat is just as delicious as the one my mom likes to make – and a bit more nutritious, too! Enjoy this video and go eat some nuts :).

 

A Perfect Dessert Smoothie

TropicalIslandSmoothie

I absolutely love this smoothie! This blend of strawberries, pineapple, and coconut is perfect. I truly feel like I am on a gorgeous, tropical island when I am drinking this smoothie. I can honestly say that it makes the perfect dessert, as it’s refreshing, sweet, and satisfying. This is the same as my Tropical Island Smoothie – please try it and share it with friends and family. It’s so good that I feel that I have to share it again and again!

Fresh Vegetable Sandwich

VeggieSandwich

This fresh, yummy vegetable sandwich has become such a favorite of mine! It’s simple to put together, the ingredients are affordable, and it’s absolutely delicious! I can’t get enough of it and I know that once you try it, you will quickly make this a go-to in your line of recipes :).

Ingredients:

Vegan, Gluten-Free

1 ripe tomato

1 organic carrot, shredded

1/2 avocado, sliced

1 handful organic spinach (or other organic green)

Pickles

Spicy brown mustard (that’s the one I love, but feel free to use whatever you’d like)

Grapeseed vegenaise (optional; I do love the creaminess that it adds to the sandwich though!)

Cucumber, sliced (I didn’t add it this time, but sometimes I do)

Black pepper (optional)

Cayenne pepper (optional)

Any other vegetables you’d like to add :)

Spread the mustard on one slice of bread and the vegenaise on the other. Add the tomatoes on one slice of bread and sprinkle some black pepper on top. Add the pickles, shredded carrot, organic spinach, cucumber, and avocado. Add cayenne pepper to the avocado for a spicy kick. Be careful not to use too much or the sandwich will be way too spicy – a little cayenne pepper goes a long way. Add everything else that you’re using, put the other slice on top, and enjoy!

Celebrate Earth Day, Go Vegan!

 

IMG_1381

I’ve been hearing lots of people talking about Earth Day, and the truth is, I honestly feel as though my diet and lifestyle celebrate the Earth and all of her beauty every day. Since I have a plant-based diet, I know I am making healthier choices for myself and leaving kinder footsteps on the Earth. Plus, I’m pretty sure that animals are very happy that I love to play with them and not eat them :).

I believe that one of the best ways that we can take care of ourselves and our planet is to cut down on our meat consumption. In fact, the Environmental Defense Fund states that, “if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads” – wow! Imagine what participating in Meatless Monday might do. Or, better yet, going meat-free for an entire week. Or forever! There is no denying that a vegetarian diet would save countless lives and help save the environment.

If you are interested in knowing how a vegan diet may benefit your health, read about Loma Linda University’s Adventist Health Study-2. The study started in 2002 and followed 69,120 Seventh-day Adventists; what’s special about this study is that people were divided into several categories (non-vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, and vegan) based on their responses to a questionnaire that asked them how often they eat over 200 different kinds of food, so researchers were really able to determine how certain foods affect our health. In the end, researchers concluded that vegans have an overall reduced cancer risk – yay! Vegetarians had less gastrointestinal cancer, especially among lacto-ovo-vegetarians (those who do not consume any meat products, but eat dairy and eggs); and there were less cases of female specific cancers in the vegan group. I would also encourage everyone to read T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, And Long-term Health. I could go on and on about the health benefits of veganism, but I want to share more on how eating meat is hurting us and our planet.

We are currently using too many of our resources to feed livestock that are being bred for the sole purpose of consumption. These animals are confined to tiny cages and are forced to “live” in miserable, filthy, inhumane conditions. The majority of meat sold in stores comes from factory farms, so if you eat chicken, eggs, beef, turkey, and/or pork, you are contributing to the suffering of animals and to the increase in greenhouse-gas emissions that we have been experiencing for years. In fact, PETA reports that, “a German study conducted in 2008 concluded that a meat-eater’s diet is responsible for more than seven times as much greenhouse-gas emissions as a vegan’s diet is” – that’s crazy!

If you’ve been thinking about reducing your meat and dairy consumption, consider making a delicious, vegan smoothie for breakfast. Enjoy a yummy veggie burger or scrumptious tempeh bowl or even a chickpea salad for lunch, and a vegan quiche, shepherd’s pie, sushi, sautéed Brussels sprouts, green beans, tortilla soup, or roasted sweet potatoes for dinner. If you think you’ll miss all of your favorite foods, enjoy these vegan nachos with friends and/or family members for a delicious appetizer. Last night I made vegan chocolate covered strawberries and they were amazing! I meant to make them for Easter, but I felt that we had so much food already, so I waited to have more treats later and they were worth it! I used Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips and the organic strawberries that I bought from the farmers’ market on Sunday. I wish that I would have taken a picture, but they were gone so quickly after my boyfriend and I made them! I used to have such a sweet tooth, but after switching to a cleaner, plant-based diet that’s filled with fresh, healthy foods, I indulge in sweets on special occasions, instead of constantly reaching for chocolate like I used to.

I have lots of people in my life who love ice cream, so I set out on a hunt to find a vegan ice treat that’s not filled with GMOs, artificial colors/flavors, and other junk. I discovered Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss and it’s amazing! I know that some people think that vegan foods are bland, but that’s just not true. I want people to explore more plant-based options, and it’s important to me that people enjoy what they’re eating.

Since I am a Health Coach and I believe in the healing power of food, remember to fill your plate with lots of greens, such as organic kale, organic spinach, broccoli, collard greens, turnip greens, swiss chard, and more. Explore new whole grains such as organic quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, organic brown Jasmine rice, and much more. Make smoothies, eat lots of fruit when it’s in season, and indulge in your favorite veganized treats every once in a while. You will feel so much lighter, healthier, refreshed, and at peace knowing that you are doing what’s best for yourself and the environment. Start slowly. Skip the eggs and bacon for breakfast and have a smoothie, oatmeal, beans and rice, miso soup, or something else that you would enjoy. Instead of getting a beef burrito from Chipotle, try a vegan bowl filled with brown rice, beans, vegetables, guacamole, and salsa. Have a bbq with tons of veggies and skip the meat. It’s easier than you think. Give it a try and let me know how it goes. Happy Earth Day!

Join Me for a FREE Healthy Living Lecture at Whole Foods

HealthyLivingLectureWholeFoods

I am looking forward to giving another workshop at Whole Foods! This one will take place on 3/25/2014 at 6:00PM at the Whole Foods in Northridge. I will be talking about how to make healthier food choices so that you will feel energized, look amazing, reach your ideal weight, and become healthier and happier than you’ve ever been!

Join me for this workshop and you’ll be able to sample three delicious smoothies! You will learn all about the vitamins and minerals that make certain foods so healthy and good for us to eat; you’ll also learn about how to prepare these foods, shop for them on a budget, and make them in as little time as possible! Now that spring is here, fresh, delicious fruits and vegetables are in season. These seasonal fruits and vegetables are exactly what we should be cleansing our bodies with on a daily basis. Learn how to crowd out processed foods and replace them with whole foods instead – it’s easier than you think! Get rid of extra weight, sugar cravings, and fatigue and replace it with lots of energy, health, whole foods, and happiness!

I have so much fun each time I give a workshop at Whole Foods; everyone is always so warm and welcoming and the last time I gave a workshop at the Whole Foods in Pasadena, Jay, the marketing manager said that he’d, “never seen the crowd so engaged during a presentation at Whole Foods.” He went on to say that he was happy that everyone was so interested in what I was saying and he genuinely felt like they were excited to be learning new health information and inspired to make simple changes in their diet and lifestyle – wow! I am so happy to keep hearing positive feedback, so please join me for another fun and informative workshop! Please RSVP – I’ll see you there soon!

Whole Foods Northridge
19340 Rinaldi Street
Northridge, California 91326
(818) 363-3933

Native Foods in Culver City

When I first tried Native Foods several years ago, I have to admit that I was not a big fan of the food. But since so many people kept raving about it, I knew I had to give it another chance – and I am so happy that I did! Now I go to Native Foods about once a week (mainly because I can’t get enough of their delicious tortilla soup!). I’ve tried many of their bowls and handholds, so I want to share some of my favorites, and hopefully you’ll stop by! I live closest to the Culver City location, so I go there the most; they’ve also got locations in Santa Monica, Los Angeles (on Gayley), Palm Springs, Colorado, Oregon, Chicago, Orange County, and San Diego. I’ve been to their location in Santa Monica and it’s just as yummy as the one in Culver City!

This tortilla soup is so good, I could eat a gigantic bowl of it every day and be incredibly happy. I wish I could recreate this soup at home, because then I really would have it all the time! I also wish that I could order it more often at Native Foods, but it is only available on Fridays – TGIF, right? If you want this soup to be gluten-free, ask for it without the tortilla strips, because they are cooked in oil that has wheat/gluten.

NativeFoodsTortillaSoup

 

I enjoy the Bangkok Curry Bowl, which is packed with lots of vegetables, seared organic tofu, and drizzled with ginger coconut-milk. I love that it comes with lots of greens and is served over brown rice. This bowl is filling, and I always have delicious leftovers. I wish I had a picture to share, but trust me, it’s delicious! The menu says that the Bangkok Curry Bowl is gluten-free, but the page that discusses dietary restrictions says that the tofu is cooked in oil that contains wheat/gluten, so double check with the kitchen to make sure that this is truly gluten-free if you have allergies, an intolerance, or Celiac disease.

I also love the Soul Bowl; the menu says that it is back by popular demand, and I can see why everyone else loves it, too. This dish comes with lots of red beans, greens, steamed vegetables, and Native Chicken, but I always get it with blackened tempeh instead of the Native Chicken – and it’s so ridiculously good! The vegetables are covered with vegan ranch and barbeque sauce, but the sauces are not overwhelming when you mix everything up together. The Soul Bowl also comes with vegan, homemade cornbread – yum! I would highly recommend this dish for your next trip to Native Foods.

NativeFoodsSoulBowlTempeh

My boyfriend has gotten the Soul Bowl before. He got it with the Native Chicken, and I did manage to take a picture of it before he started eating, so here it is!

NativeFoodsSoulBowl

I love that Native Foods is sure to offer gluten-free entrees, such as the delicious Baja Blackened Tacos! You get two soft corn tacos filled with blackened tempeh, which is covered in guacamole, cabbage, and a delicious, creamy, chipotle sauce. I love ordering this with the tortilla soup; I’ve also gotten it with a side of the potato salad, which is pictured below.

NativeFoodsBajaTacos

My mom and boyfriend both love the gyro bowl. I’ve had a couple bites of it, and I agree that the flavors of this dish are so delicious! I really like that it comes with lemon garlic sauce and hummus – yum! If I were to get it, I would probably sub the seitan for tempeh, although the recommendation for making it gluten-free is to go with portabello mushrooms and black beans (maybe I’ll try that!). I don’t have a picture to share, but if you enjoy Greek gyros, I imagine you’d enjoy this bowl as well. I will sneak a picture the next time my mom or boyfriend orders this dish, because I know they will!

I tried the Scorpion Burger recently and it was really good. It was incredibly filling and hearty, but that’s because I’m not used to having huge sandwiches. If you are really hungry, or want a super filling sandwich, give it a try! The man working at the counter recommended that I have it with some vegan cheese, so I did. The bread is not gluten-free, but the tempeh is, so maybe you can ask for it on a bed of kale and ask if that will make it gluten-free.

NativeFoodsScorpionBurger

I’ve tried the Roccin’ Moroccan Bowl, but it’s not my favorite thing on the menu. I don’t have a picture to share, but it’s packed with vegetables, just like their other Earth Bowls. My boyfriend does enjoy this dish, so if it sounds like something you might like, give it a try!

Native Foods used to have this Raddichal Farm Salad, but I have not seen it on the Culver City menu in a long time. This salad has lots of grilled radicchio, roasted potatoes, greens, and other vegetables, and it comes with creamy caper dressing, tofu, and shallots. I’m not sure if the other locations are still making this salad, but if it sounds like something you’d like to try, I have a picture to share!

NativeFoodsRaddichalFarmSalad

I would recommend Native Foods for when you want a quick bite that’s affordable, filling, and mostly healthy. If you get the Earth Bowls or one of their salads, you’ll be enjoying lots of vegetables, which is exactly what I love to do! For dessert, try the chocolate cupcake. Sometimes they have a rose cupcake, and it’s delicious, but they always have chocolate cupcakes and brownies, so I would say that you should try one of those if you are a chocolate lover. Go easy on the sauces, but go wild with your greens! If you stop by, let me know if you enjoy your meal :).

Spring Super Smoothies Workshop at Whole Foods Market

WholeFoodsPasadena

Last  night I gave a health workshop at Whole Foods Market in Pasadena. The focus of the workshop was how to incorporate healthy, whole foods in our diet and I  made three different smoothies for people to sample. I am so happy to say that the workshop went well; everyone working at Whole Foods was kind and supportive. The audience was a pleasure to speak with, and I was so excited when Jay, the marketing manager said that he had never seen a group of people so engaged during a workshop at Whole Foods! I love to have interactive workshops, so I was thrilled to have so many people asking questions and being fully present during the presentation.

It’s always fun for me to meet new people who are interested in making healthier diet and lifestyle choices. During the workshop, people learned how different foods affect our health; many people were surprised by all the benefits we get from making simple additions to our diet, including eating more greens, berries, pineapple, coconuts, ground flaxseeds, raw cacao, and more. I had such a wonderful time and am grateful for this amazing opportunity. Below is a picture of all the yummy ingredients I used to make the smoothies:

WholeFoodsMarketWorkshop

During the workshop, I made my Super Green Smoothie, Superfoods Smoothie, and Dessert Smoothie (which I also call my, “Tropical Island Smoothie” because it reminds me of being on vacation on a beautiful island :)).

If you missed last night’s workshop, but would like to attend another one soon, I’ll be giving a health workshop at Whole Foods Market in Porter Ranch on March 25th at 6:00PM. I would love to see you all there!