Spaghetti Squash Garlic “Noodles”

July 12, 2016
Spaghetti Squash "Garlic Bread"

It’s official.  I’m obsessed with this recipe.  I seriously daydream about it.

Now, if we are being honest here, there are no actual “noodles” in this recipe…but when you taste it, you won’t care.

I almost called this recipe Spaghetti Squash Garlic “Bread“, because this recipe tastes just like garlic bread well, without the actual bread part. But since spaghetti squash is kind of like spaghetti, I thought calling it garlic ‘noodles‘ was less of a stretch than garlic bread in this case. 

Bonus – this recipe is super simple, it is great as a side or a main course, and it is also good leftover!

And did I mention…?  It tastes like garlic bread!!  Yeah, I think I probably already did mention that…

For someone who has been gluten free for a long time, getting to have garlic bread without the bread is the bomb.com!!

Ingredients:

  • 1 spaghetti squashReal Salt Garlic Salt
  • Approx. 2 tablespoons of avocado oil*- enough to coat the squash
  • Garlic salt (my favorite is Real Salt brand, because it is unprocessed, mineral-rich high quality ‘real’ salt) – to taste, but don’t be stingy!
  • Grass fed butter (such as Kerry Gold)  – to taste  (I used roughly 1 tablespoon per 1 cup serving)
  • Parmesean cheese- freshly grated –  to taste (I used about 1 Tablespoon per serving)
  • Optional – fresh chopped parsley or basil and Aleppo pepper flakes (or red pepper flakes) – to taste. 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice squash lengthwise, and coat with avocado oil (*you can use olive oil if you can’t find avocado, but I like avocado because it can withstand higher heats without oxidizing).
  3. Lay the cut side down on a glass baking dish or a sheetpan (you can use parchment if you prefer).
  4. Poke the squash a couple times with a knife (helps to cook faster this way)
  5. Put into the oven and cook until fork tender, about 30 mins.
  6. Scoop out the seeds, and then using a fork – pull out the flesh – it should look a little like noodles.
  7. Stir in some grass fed butter (olive oil if going vegan), sprinkle on some garlic salt, and grate some fresh parmesean cheese.  Add some aleppo peppers and some fresh chopped parsley or basil if desired.  What are aleppo peppers?  Well, they kind of like red pepper flakes, but milder – so they add just a touch of spice, but not too much.  I sprinkle them on pretty much everything – they are especially good on roasted veggies.
  8. Serve and enjoy!!
  9. Save any leftovers in the refrigerator up to 3 days.  To reheat, just warm up a saucepan with some grass fed butter, add in the squash and seasonings, and stir for a couple of minutes until warmed.  Serve & enjoy.

Two other great ways to top spaghetti squash are marinara sauce and pesto.

 

Signature

 

 

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

share with friends
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

Comment Using Facebook

Green Chili Chicken

April 29, 2016
Green Chili Chicken

The secret ingredient in this chili is cauliflower – and you would never know it was there!!  A member of the cruciferous family, cauliflower adds fiber, vitamins, minerals, and also helps to give it some “body.”  Cauliflower is rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, and sulfur – which supports the liver.  But the real star of this dish is the tomatillos and poblano chili peppers – they are so delicious!!  My whole family loves this one pot dinner!  You could also make it in a slow cooker – but it would take longer.

Serves 6-8 people.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound – 1.5 pounds of chicken thighs or breasts (can be bone-in or not)
  • 1/2 of a medium sized cauliflower
  • 1 quart of free range chicken broth (can be homemade, I use low sodium if using boxed) 
  • 10-12 tomatillos
  • 3-4 poblano peppers
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • dried oregano – about 1 tsp.
  • Optional – Trader Joes 21 Spice Blend
  • 1 can of small white beans, drained (like great northern)omit if you want a “Paleo” meal
  • salt & pepper to taste

Optional Toppings:

  • Sour cream
  • Finely chopped jalapeno
  • Grated cheese

Directions:

Note: If you don’t have time for steps 1-5 and want a quicker and easier version – you could replace steps 1-5 with a jar of green tomatillo salsa – I like the Hatch chili kind at Trader Joes.

  1. Heat oven to about 400 degrees.
  2. Remove the papery skin from the tomatillos
  3. Coat tomatillos and poblanos in oil (I use avocado oil)
  4. Put on a sheet pan in pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes – turning with tongs about halfway through. They should be roasted and slightly charred.
  5. Put the poblanos in a bowl and cover with saran wrap or a lid for about 10 mins.  Then peel off the skins, and chop.
  6. Put the cauliflower into a food processor and pulse it until it is “riced.”
  7. Sprinkle the chicken with salt & pepper (and any other seasoning you like – I like to sprinkle it with Trader Joes 21 Spice Blend)
  8. Put a large heavy bottomed saucepan on the stove and warm up about 1-2  tablespoons of avocado oil (or coconut oil).
  9. When oil is heated, put in the chicken thighs or breasts and sauté over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes, to brown the outside – remove and put on a plate while you cook the onions.
  10. Add more oil if needed first – then put the onions in the pan and sauté over medium heat until translucent, about 3-5 mins.
  11. Add back the chicken, and the broth, the cauliflower “rice”, tomatillos, chopped poblanos, oregano, a teaspoon of salt, and any other seasonings you like (I sprinkle a little 21 Spice blend usually) – bring to a boil and then once boiling, drop down to a simmer.
  12. Simmer for about 30 minutes (stirring occasionally – and smashing the tomatillos on the side of the pot to break them up).
  13. Take the chicken out (check to see if it is done through) and let cool enough so you can shred it with a fork (remove bones and skin at this time – if you used skin on, bone in).
  14. Put the drained beans in (if using) and bring back to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook another 5 minutes.  If you have a hand blender – you can put it in for a few seconds – this will help to thicken it up, but is not absolutely needed.
  15. Add back the shredded chicken, simmer a few more minutes – taste and adjust salt and any seasonings.
  16. Put into bowls and serve with desired toppings.
  17. Save leftovers in fridge up to 3 days.

Recipe developed by Sara Vance. All rights reserved.

Signature

 

 

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

share with friends
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

Comment Using Facebook

Detoxifying Dill Soup

March 31, 2016
Detoxifying Dill Soup

I love using fresh herbs – they really brighten up and transform a salad or soup.  As far as herbs go, dill is right up there with basil and mint at the top of my list!

This dill soup is very refreshing, and easy to make – it literally whips together in about 3 minutes! And besides the broth – this is totally raw!

Dill is a wonderful herb – and can be helpful to relieve headaches, which can occasionally happen when detoxing, it is a natural anti-fungal, and has even been found to have anti-cancer properties (learn more about dill in this article from Dr. Mercola).

Ingredients:

  • 1 big handful (about a cup) of organic baby spinach (could also use chard, kale, etc)
  • 1 cup of organic chicken bone broth (or vegetable broth for vegan) – use homemade or store bought
  • the flesh of 1/2 a ripe avocado
  • juice from 1/2 of a lemon
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 clove of garlic (optional)
  • small handful of fresh dill (or about 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • Himalayan or celtic salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Warm up the broth on the stove for a couple minutes.
  2. Put the broth, garlic & greens, avocado, lemon, dill & celery the Vitamix and blend to combine.
  3. Taste & adjust salt. Add any other seasoning you desire (sometimes I add some Trader Joes 21 Spice blend).
  4. Pour into bowls – sprinkle on some alleppo peppers if you want to give it a little kick!
  5. Serve & enjoy!

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

share with friends
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

Comment Using Facebook

Chicken Pot Pie

January 17, 2016
Chicken Pot Pie

My kids love comfort food like chicken pot pie, and after seeing a friend post a delicious looking recipe online – I decided that I was going to try to make a grain-free version (you could also make this totally dairy free too)!

To me, food should not only taste delicious – but it should be good for us too.  It is possible for food to be both delicious and nutritious!  It just sometimes take a little tinkering.  I love to take traditional recipes and UPGRADE them to make them better for our health & metabolism.  This recipe has been upgraded by adding a whole head of cauliflower (additional vitamins, minerals and fiber).  Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable, which is shown to support a healthy liver, and potentially can be helpful in the prevention of cancer.  This has also been upgraded by taking out the usual white flour in the crust – and replacing it with a grain and gluten free version.  And since many people do not tolerate dairy nowadays – this can also be made 100% dairy free too.  Eating foods that we are intolerant to can lead to weight gain, inflammation (pain), and a long list of chronic symptoms.

I looked online for some recipes, and found this one from The Paleo Mom.  I loved her idea of using a cauliflower sauce – I have used cauliflower for alfredo sauces, and I add cauliflower to many of my recipes to thicken them and add nutrition – in my mind, cauliflower is an essential ingredient in the dairy free chef’s kitchen!!   I made a few adjustments to her recipe along the way, so here is my version of Chicken Pot Pie:

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 1 quart of chicken stock (low sodium free range if using boxed)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 egg yolk (optional – reserve the egg white for glazing crust)
  • 2 teaspoons grass fed butter (or ghee) – omit or use coconut oil if wanting 100% dairy free
  • Himalayan salt to taste (start with 1/2 teaspoon)

Sauce Directions:

  1. Put the cauliflower florets, garlic, salt, and stock in a saucepan on the stove, bring to a boil – then reduce to simmer and cook for about 15 mins (until cauliflower is fork-tender), add in the butter (or ghee), let melt.
  2. Allow to cool for about 10 mins.
  3. Put it all into a blender and blend until smooth.  Taste – add more salt if needed.
  4. Temper the egg yolk (add a spoonful of the cauliflower sauce to it, stir, do it again 2-3 more times, and then add the yolk to the broth in the blender – blend again to combine).
  5. Set aside.

Filling Ingredients:

  • a whole roasted chicken – (pull meat off the bone and shred or chop – makes about 3 cups)
  • 3 carrots
  • 3 celery sticks
  • 1 small rutabega
  • 1 small parsnip
  • 1 onion
  • Himalayan salt to taste (I sprinkle on as I add each veggie into the pan – but you can season at the end if you prefer)
  • I also used Trader Joes 21 spice blend to taste
  • optional – 1/2 cup frozen petite peas (I forgot them – so we had them on the side)
  • 3 Tablespoons of ghee or coconut oil (I used a combination of ghee and coconut oil)

Crust Ingredients:  

  • Chebe* bread box mix (buy here)
  • 1/4 cup milk of your choice (can use almond, rice, raw dairy if tolerated, or you can also use water)Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 9.11.02 AM
  • 2 Tablespoons oil (I used avocado oil)
  • 2 eggs (plus 1 additional egg white for glazing)

*For some reason – I could not get the crust from The Paleo Mom’s recipe to work – I think it needs some butter or something to get it to come together.  So thankfully – I had a Chebe bread mix box handy – which is a grain free bread made with tapioca (they make great buns, breadsticks, and pizza crusts).  So I made that (follow directions on the box – I made mine without the cheese, you can use any kind of non-dairy milk you like, water, or raw dairy if you tolerate it).

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Chop the onion, and dice all the other vegetables (except peas) – the vegetables should all be roughly about the same sized dice – I like mine fairly small.
  3. In a very large sauce pan – warm up the ghee or coconut oil (I used a combination of the two)
  4. Add the chopped onion to the pan, cook on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes (until translucent).Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 9.12.33 AM
  5. Add in the diced rutabaga and parsnips, sprinkle lightly with salt, cook about 5-7 minutes
  6. Add in the carrots, celery, sprinkle lightly with salt, also add in your Trader Joes 21 Spice blend, cook another 5 minutes
  7. If using, add in the peas, cook about 1-2 minutes more.
  8. All veggies should be fork tender – but still al dente.  Taste to make sure you have enough salt and seasonings. Adjust.
  9. Pour in the sauce, add in the chicken and cook a couple minutes more – and then pour into greased glass cookware (I greased two 9X9 square pyrex dishes with coconut oil).  This can all be done up to 12 ours in advance – store in refrigerator before cooking.  Allow to warm on counter for about 20 mins before cooking if you did it ahead of time.
  10. Make your Chebe bread according to package directions (I left out the cheese – it is not needed).
  11. Roll it out as thin as possible on parchment, cut it into strips.
  12. Lay the crust strips on top, in a criss cross fashion, lightly brush the crust with the egg whites (this makes them more golden brown), and then put into a 375 degree oven for about 40-45 minutes (the filling should be bubbling, and the crust golden brown)

Serve & enjoy!  Save extra in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

 

 

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

share with friends
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

Comment Using Facebook

Mini Meatloaves (Gluten & Grain free) w/ Homemade Ketchup

May 26, 2015
Mini Meatloaves

 AKA “Meat muffins”

I love it when I come up with a recipe that is healthy, and passes the kid taste test – this recipe hit it out of the ballpark on both accounts!  Even my quinoa-hating daughter loved them – I only told her about the quinoa after she had decided that she loved them!  My kids like to call them “meat muffins” because they are made in muffin tins – which makes them even more fun!

I have already made this recipe twice, and my kids regularly ask for it – so I plan to make it again this week.  The leftovers make a great (hearty) after school snack, or a quick meal – but in my house, they don’t last for long!

Yield: 12 individual meat loaves.

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 3/4 pounds (approx.) ground grass fed beef*
  • 1 onion, very finely chopped (or grated)
  • 1 medium zucchini (organic)*, finely grated (yields about 3/4 cup finely grated)
  • 2 eggs*
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 stalks of celery, very finely diced
  • 3/4 cup of cooked quinoa
  • 2 tsp of gluten free Worcestershire sauce (this is optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. of dijon mustard
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. Himalayan salt
  • cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp of dried thyme
  • 3-4 Tablespoons of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 2 Tablespoons of avocado oil (for sautéing the onions), plus more for greasing the muffin tin

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 9.05.47 AM

Sauce (Ketchup):

  • 1/2 cup of tomato paste
  • 5 tsp. of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. of dijon mustard (or more if you like)
  • 1/2  tsp. Himalayan salt
  • pinch of ground cloves, pinch of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. of coconut palm sugar (or a few drops of stevia for a sugar free option – or honey, raw agave, or another natural sweetener.)  I found this to be the perfect sweetness, but add another teaspoon if you prefer.

Put the sugar into the vinegar and stir until it dissolves. Then add all the ingredients together, stir to combine – taste & adjust.  Store in refrigerator until ready to use.  This step can be done a day or two ahead.

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Coat a muffin tin with avocado oil
  3. Cook the quinoa & let cool (this can be done a day ahead – just make sure to make enough to yield 3/4 cup cooked – I always make a little extra to save in the refrigerator to throw into a salad).
  4. Grate the zucchini (using fine grater) and squeeze out all the excess moisture with a couple of paper towels (I squeezed it over the sink).
  5. Finely chop the onion, mince the garlic, and very finely chop the celery and parsley.
  6. Heat a pan on medium, add in 2 Tablespoons of avocado oil (or coconut oil). Add the onions and sauté for about 5-6 minutes, or until soft & translucent.  Add in the garlic and celery and cook about 2-3 mins more.  Take onion mixture off heat, and let cool.
  7. Crack the eggs into a bowl, whisk them to break up yolks, and then add in all the other ingredients except beef (and the avocado oil, which is for sautéing).  Mix to combine.  Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 9.05.38 AM
  8. And finally – add in the grass fed beef – gently combining. (I find that it works best when I mix the beef in by hand).
  9. Scoop the meatloaf mixture into oiled muffin tins.Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 9.05.26 AM
  10. Put into the pre-heated 375 degree oven and cook for 20 minutes. (I like to put a sheet pan underneath in case of any drippings).
  11. Raise oven temperature to 425 degrees.  Take muffin tin out of oven, spread a teaspoon of sauce on top of each meatloaf, return to 425 degree oven and cook another 10 minutes.
  12. Take out of oven, let rest 5 minutes, and then serve with additional sauce on the side.

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 9.04.57 AM

This recipe is great with steamed broccoli with some grass fed butter and mashed potatoes.   Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days (they won’t last that long)!

*A note about quality – I always make sure to go for grass fed beef – to avoid hormones, antibiotics, and other additives – plus grass fed beef is higher in omega 3s and 500% higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than conventional beef – which studies have found helps to burn fat (read this article to learn more).  I also always choose organic for zucchini – because conventional zucchini is highly likely to be GMO, which I avoid because there is evidence that GMOs could be harming our gut health and even increase our risk of cancer.  And finally – I always look for organic pastured or free range eggs – which also have a higher amount of omega 3s and no antibiotics or hormones.

 

 

 

 

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

share with friends
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

Comment Using Facebook

Zucchini Pizza Crust

January 6, 2015
zucchini-crust

This crust is gluten free and delicious – and easy to make!

Ingredients:

  • 2 small organic zucchini (or one and a half large ones), grated
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 2 tsp. chia seeds (I like to use ground ones for this, but either works)
  • 1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour (chickpea)
  • 1 TBS. Coconut oil (melted) – you will need a little more for the pizza stone
  • 1 tsp. good quality salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 garlic clove – pressed, or 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herbs – such as basil, oregano

Directions to Make the Pizza Dough:

  1. Put your pizza stone or pan into the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Crack eggs into bowl, and whisk them. Add in the chia seeds, let soak for a few mins.
  3. Now grate the zucchini.
  4. Add the zucchini and the rest of the ingredients in with the eggs, and stir to combine.
  5. Take pre-heated pizza stone out of the oven.  Coat area with coconut oil.  Spoon the dough evenly onto the stone. You can make 3 small individual pizza crusts, or one large one.
  6. Put the pizza stone into the lower third of the oven to bake for about 8 minutes.
  7. Move it up to the bottom of the upper third of the oven (not too close to the top). Cook for another 5-8 mins.
  8. It should be fairly firm and cooked through. If you put a spatula under it, it should not be soggy or bend too much.
  9. Now it is ready to add your toppings.
  10. Preheat the pizza stone in a 425 degree oven.  Add your toppings to the crusts and place them on the pre-heated stone and return it to the oven, bake until toppings melt, about 8-10 minutes.

Suggested toppings: carmelized onions, arugula, tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, thinly sliced red peppers, slices green or black olives, and shredded goat or sheeps milk cheese.

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

share with friends
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

Comment Using Facebook

5 Key Performance-Enhancing Superfoods

November 21, 2014
athlete

I just watched the Showtime documentary Stop at Nothing the other night, this powerful film profiles Lance Armstrong’s obsession with winning, fame, and power.

Watching that film got me thinking about the one thing that all serious competitive athletes have in common is – they have a very powerful desire to win.  In order to win, an athlete knows they need to set goals, train hard, and that means that they need to be able to push through pain and overcome adversity.  Often they have to make sacrifices in other areas of their lives to truly commit to their chosen sport.

The better an athlete gets at their sport and the tougher the competition gets – the harder it gets to stay on top.  I understand the immense pressure Lance Armstrong and other serious athletes are under to win.

Unfortunately, Lance chose to take the illegal and unethical path of using banned substances to gain an unfair edge. It eventually cost him everything – his Tour de France titles, all his lucrative contracts, and the respect of the world.  His actions and choices led to disgrace. I hope one lesson that young athletes can learn from Lance’s mistakes, is that it is not worth compromising your character to win, and that trying to rely on the “quick fix” might come back to bite you in more ways than one.  Because even some of the legal substances that athletes think will help them gain an edge can potentially lead to deficiencies in other areas of performance or recovery, and potentially even serious health trouble (ranging from dehydration to cramping and even organ dysfunction).  Just because a product might make your muscles look bigger, does not mean that they are necessarily stronger, or will make you be able perform better.

The good news, is there are a number of natural and healthy ways for athletes to gain a competitive edge today. One area that all too often gets overlooked is the power of using foods to improve performance and recovery. And the cool thing about nutritional approaches?  Beyond the performance & recovery benefits, they can also offer other health benefits ranging from disease prevention to brain function and balancing mood.  The first step is simple –

Just get the junk out!

Realize that the majority of people (yes, even athletes too) are eating way too many processed foods and getting too much sugar (read about what happened to a man who ate 40 teaspoons of sugar a day in just 60 days – which is a little more than the average teenage boy gets).  The more processed foods in your diet – the more energy the body has to expend on detoxification, the more bogged down the body will become, and the less energy you will have for your training. Processed diets are nutritionally deficient – and athletes need nutrients to perform and recover. Another thing that happens to the body when the diet has too much sugar or processed ingredients – inflammation.  An athlete’s enemy, inflammation leads to swelling, pain, and can degrade performance, range of motion, flexibility, and recovery. Inflammation raises our risk of overuse injuries, asthma, and almost every major disease.  Simply cleaning up the diet and staying properly hydrated, and getting more plant-based foods, high quality grass fed or organic proteins, and cutting out the junk – will give an athlete an edge over the competition.

Got a clean diet and ready to take it a step further?  Check out these superfoods to see if they can help to take you and your performance to the next level.

5 Performance-Enhancing Superfoods:

1. Mushrooms

Although not typically the first thing that comes to mind when talking about athletic performance, mushroom’s are one of nature’s most powerful superfoods – and could be an athlete’s secret weapon.  Mushrooms are a type of fungi, or bacteria that can offer a wide range of health benefits ranging from immune-boosting to performance-enhancing effects. They have been used medicinally in Asia for thousands of years.  Although you will get health benefits from adding a few button mushrooms into your omelette, for performance enhancement, athletes will want to look to medicinal-grade mushrooms like cordyceps, reishi, turkey tail, and lion’s mane. An ideal way to incorporate them into an athlete’s diet is with certified organic mushroom powders, which can be added to things like smoothies, soups and drinks.  Interested in seeing how mushrooms can boost your performance?

A local company called Mushroom Matrix, offers organic mushroom powders, and have extended a 10% off coupon for me to share with you, enter: rebalancelife at checkout to get your 10% discount. Some Mushroom Matrix organic powders to try:

  • Cordyceps, is one of the best mushrooms for athletes, because it boosts oxygen delivery and ATP synthesis – which is critical for energy production. Cordyceps support energy, stamina, recovery, and endurance. Discovered by Tibetian herdsman, cordyceps mushrooms are unique in that they grow on insects.  Other potential benefits of cordyceps include: reducing inflammation, supporting a healthy mood, a healthy weight, healthy cholesterol levels, as well as anti-tumor effects, and blood sugar management.
  • Reishi mushrooms are adaptogenic, which means they adapt to help support the body recover from physical and mental stress.  Often called “the mushroom of immortality,” reishi mushrooms support the immune system and the cardiovascular system.  They support aerobic capacity and recovery.
  • “Fit” formula, which combines both Reishi and Cordyceps powders into one to create a powerful formula to support respiration, endurance, and recovery.

Make sure to choose organic when purchasing mushrooms or mushroom powders/supplements.

2. Beetroot juice or powders 

Google beetjuice and performance, and you will find a plethora of articles touting the benefits – “beets are like legal blood-doping” and “like taking performance enhancing drugs.”  At the Olympic training center in London – athletes were eschewing the brightly colored sports drinks and downing bright pink cocktails of beet juice, pineapple, ginger and orange juice instead. The benefits of beet juice come from their high content of nitrates, which are converted in the body into nitric oxide – which causes blood vessel dilation, and improves energy production and usage – which makes the body more efficient, and supports the heart to do it’s work.  You can juice whole organic beets, or buy a beetroot powder. I recommend if you do incorporate beets/use a powder, to make sure it is non-GMO or organic. Add some spinach, chard and celery to your drink too – as they also are high in nitrates.  One example of a organic beet powder to try is Superbeets organic beet powder, just 1 teaspoon is equivalent to eating 3 organic beets.

One thing to point out with beetjuice – it can change the color of your stool and urine.  So don’t freak out the day after trying beet juice when your toilet water looks pink.

3. Chia seeds

From the book Born to Run: “In terms of nutritional content, a tablespoon of chia is like a smoothie made from salmon, spinach, and human growth hormone.” An ancient Aztec superfood, chia seeds may rival mushrooms as one of the oldest performance-enhancing foods. Chia seeds gave the ancient Aztec warriors the long-lasting energy and endurance they needed to go into battle.  Chia seeds boost endurance, energy, hydration, focus/attention, and reduce inflammation.  Chia seeds are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, and are also high in fiber, protein, and have a number of minerals including calcium, magnesium, and potassium – all important for athletes.  Omega 3s are shown to lower inflammation – critical for recovery and injury prevention.  Unlike flax, chia is rich in antioxidants, which means it will not go rancid after grinding, and helps to prevent free radical damage.  Chia seed are uniquely hydrophillic, so when they come in contact with water, they form a gel-like substance.  This chia gel slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, helping to level out bloodsugar and maintain energy/endurance.  Chia gel also holds on to water, which helps to maintain hydration – very important for an athlete.  Always make sure to consume chia seeds with plenty of water or liquids to prevent dehydration, I like to soak the chia seeds for about 5 minutes before consuming to ensure they are hydrated.  Add chia seeds to your smoothie, or make chia pudding.

4. Virgin Coconut Oil

Medium chain fatty acids (MCTs) which are found in coconut oil have been known in the body building industry for a few decades as a superior form of fat.  Medium chain fatty acids are more readily converted to energy by the body, so it is also less likely to be stored as fat. Coconut oil is more easily digested, so it is less likely to cause stomach upset than other fats. Taking coconut oil in the morning helps to train the body to use fat as fuel, instead of glucose.  If an athlete can get their body out of sugar-burning mode – that can be a key advantage over the competition.   I recommend adding a teaspoon or two of coconut oil to your morning smoothie, chia pudding, or oatmeal.  A 1978 study also found that coconut oil increases the body’s production of hGH within 30-90 minutes of ingesting it.  Coconut oil has some other key advantages – first, it is a m

5. Goji berries

Another ancient superfood with a rich history, the goji berry is a small red berry that has a slightly tart flavor.  Also known as wolfberries, they can be eaten raw or made into a tea. Goji berries are known to naturally increase the body’s production of human growth hormone – which is known to improve performance and also has anti-aging effects.

Using nutrition is a healthy and ethical way for athletes to improve their performance, endurance, and recovery.

Note: although some foods can impact performance immediately, others will take longer to build up into the system – so allow up to 4 weeks of consistently taking them to reach the full benefit. Also, some people might notice a difference/benefit from adding superfoods, while others may not.

The other benefit of adding superfoods to your diet – is that they can offer many benefits beyond just performance and recovery enhancement – ranging from immune-boosting to disease-prevention.

A final word of advice to gain an edge? Don’t undervalue recovery.  Like all things in nature, the body has a yin and yang, and in order to perform at your best – you need to be allowing your body the time to recover in order to perform at your best (read: The Yin and Yang of Sports Recovery and  Are you Headed for Performance Burnout?).

Some links to studies/articles:

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

share with friends
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

Comment Using Facebook

Creamy Broccoli Soup (deliciously dairy free)

November 15, 2014
soup

My son loves soup.  You name it, he loves it.  Chicken noodle, clam chowder, beef stew, lobster bisque, miso, lemon artichoke chicken, and even cream of broccoli soup.  Sometimes we stop at Whole Foods for a snack, and more often than not he has – you guessed it – soup!  The other day we were stopping in for a cup of soup when I saw it – broccoli cashew soup!  Wow – what a cool idea, a dairy free cream soup made with cashews. We had a little taster, and both loved it.  The lightbulbs started going off – oh the things I could make with cashew cream – cream of broccoli, clam chowder, alfredo…. I couldn’t wait to put my chef hat on, and give it a go myself. In fact, we had had broccoli with dinner the night before, and as I always do – I made extra, so I had some steamed broccoli already in the fridge.  I grabbed some cashews, chicken stock (I love this new chicken bone broth from Pacific foods), and we were off.  This is the delicious result!

Creamy Broccoli Soup:

  • 1/2 onion – chopped
  • 2 tsp. coconut oil (or you can use ghee or avocado oil)
  • 2/3 cup cashews – soaked, drained
  • 3 cups chicken stock (can use vegetable stock for vegan version)
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 2 cups steamed broccoli
  • 2 tsp. 21 spice blend (Trader Joes)
  • 1 tsp. salt (taste & adjust as needed)
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbs. Nutritional Yeast (optional)
  • Optional – Aleppo peppers or cayenne

Directions:

  1. Soak your cashews in water for 2-6 hours. Drain.
  2. Blend cashews in the vitamix with about 1/2 cup of water (if needed, add more to blend, it should look like cream).
  3. Steam your broccoli, until fork tender, but still bright green
  4. Chop 1/2 an onion
  5. Put your coconut oil into a large saucepan heated over medium.
  6. Add the onion to the pan and saute until translucent.
  7. Add in the chicken stock, spinach, 1 cup of the broccoli, salt, pepper and spices. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 5 mins.
  8. Meanwhile – chop the other cup of broccoli to small pieces (if you do not want your soup chunky, skip this step and put all the broccoli into the pan). Reserve on the side.
  9. Using an immersion blender, puree the broccoli soup. Alternatively, you could put into a blender, or food processor).  Stir in about 1/2 cup of the cashew cream (reserve some for topping the soup).
  10. Add in the chopped broccoli, simmer for about 5 more minutes.
  11. Pour into bowls and top with more cashew cream, and optionally Aleppo peppers or cayenne.
  12. Enjoy!

Store any extra soup in the fridge for up to 3 days.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

share with friends
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

Comment Using Facebook

Gluten-Free “Chick Fil-A” Style Chicken Nuggets

July 28, 2013
Screen-Shot-2013-07-28-at-3.06.48-PM

Want me to let you in on a little secret?

Word on the street is that Chick-Fil-A nuggets are injected with pickle juice!  I know – crazy, huh?!

I can not confirm nor deny that Chick-Fil-A injects or marinates their nuggets in pickle juice – but I decided to see if it worked!!  So I made up my own version of pickle-juice marinated chicken nuggets at home…and of course, they had to be gluten-free and boosted with superfoods too!!

They were a hit!  So I thought I would share the recipe…

Chick-Fil-A Style Gluten Free Nuggets

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless skinless organic chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup of dill pickle juice* – such as Bubbies brand or homemade
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground paprika
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup of almond flour
  • 1/4 cup of gluten free flour blend (I used Bobs Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose)
  • 1 Tablespoon ground chia seeds
  • Optional – 1-2 Tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon 21 Seasoning Salute (Trader Joes) – or your choice of seasonings
  • Approx. 1/2 cup of coconut oil or 1/2 cup organic Grapeseed oil for sauteing (both good options for higher heat cooking).

*Avoid using any kind of pickle juice that contains artificial colors – I like Bubbies or other natural brind/fermented pickles.  If you don’t have time for this step, you can skip it – just season the chicken or egg wash with a sprinkle of Himalayan salt.

Directions:

  1. Cut the chicken into approx. 2 inch bite sized pieces, then put them in a large Ziplock bag or dish with 1/2 cup of pickle juice and the paprika.  Marinate them for 2-3 hours in the refrigerator. Then drain out the pickle juice. (If you do not have time for this, skip it – just lightly season it with salt before moving on).
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Whip up the egg in one bowl, add in about 1 Tablespoon of water to thin.
  4. In the other bowl combine the gluten free flour, ground chia seeds, almond flour, salt, pepper, seasonings, and parmesan cheese (if using).
  5. Dredge the chicken in the egg, then roll it into the flour mixture, shaking off excess. Set them on a plate until you are ready to saute them.
  6. Heat oil in pan over medium high heat – the oil should completely cover the bottom of the pan.
  7. Put the chicken into the pan, it should sizzle right away if it is hot enough (do not overlap, might need to do them in batches).
  8. Cook for about 3 minutes a side (or until lightly browned).
  9. Have a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet pan nearby, put the sauteed chicken pieces onto the pan, once all of them have been sauteed, put them into the 400 degree oven to cook for about 10 minutes (or until no longer pink inside).

Enjoy with some organic ketchup, BBQ sauce, or this:

Quick n’ Easy Honey Mustard Sauce:

  • 2 Tablespoons grainy dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Grapeseed Vegenaise mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons raw honey (or to taste)

Stir all together, taste & adjust. Serve with chicken nuggets.

Wanting a yummy superfood boosted mac n cheese to go along with this recipe?  This free Cooking with Superfoods eBook has a gluten-free mac n’ cheese recipe that is loaded with butternut squash and boosted with nutritional yeast!

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

share with friends
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

Comment Using Facebook

Healing Chicken Noodle Soup – 2 Ways!

December 6, 2012
download-12

If you ever catch yourself about to say, “it has been a while since the kids have been to the doctor.”  Or ” We haven’t been sick in a while.”  Stop yourself, just resist the urge.  Because the minute you do, someone will get sick.  Murphy’s Law.

‘This week it happened to us – both my kids got that nasty upper respiratory thing.  One is still home sick – on day three now.  So in addition to the Olive leaf, Elderberry, Vitamin C, and zinc (read more tips for Cold and Flu prevention here)- it was time to pull out the serious medicine – and make s big pot of Homemade Healing (gluten free) Chicken Noodle soup!  My son is a big fan of soup – so there was nothing he would like better on any given day, especially when he is sick.

Sara’s Mexican Style Chicken Soup

If you have never made chicken soup at home before – do not worry, it is really easy – I promise! I will walk you through it, and even give you two different flavor options: traditional chicken noodle, and Mexican style.  Until we moved to San Diego, I had never even heard of Mexican style chicken soup.  But now it is one of my favorites!  So you can make one broth – and turn it into two soups!

First: Make your chicken broth.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bone in organic chicken breasts (or 3-4 bone in thighs).  You can also throw in some more bones – like the neck too – the more the better/tastier.
  • 1 onion
  • 1 cup of diced carrots
  • 1 cup of diced celery
  • Parsley – handful
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Thyme sprigs (about 3-4)
  • 14 cups of water
  • 1 Tablespoon and 1 teaspoon sea salt, celtic salt or pink Himalayan salt
  • 3 Tablespoons of oil (avocado, olive, or coconut oil)
  • optional – Kombu strip (adds a rich “umami” taste, natural minerals, and iodine – to boost thyroid function, it also boosts digestion)
  • Noodles – we like Tinkinyada brand

Directions:

  • Chop the onion
  • Dice the carrots and celery (into approx. 1/4 in pieces)
  • Heat up about 3 tablespoons of oil in a large heavy bottom pot on stove
  • On low heat – sweat the onions for a couple of minutes to soften.
  • Add in the following:
    • The rest of the diced veggies
    • 14 cups of fresh filtered water
    • thyme sprigs & parsley tied up into a cheesecloth
    • The chicken (and bones if using)
    • The kombu strip (if using)
    • Salt
  • Turn up heat and bring to a boil.
  • Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for about 40 minutes (depending on how large your chicken pieces are), covering partially with lid.
  • After approx. 40 mins, take out the chicken – and cut into it to see if it is cooked through.  If it is not, return it to the pot to cook for another 5-10 mins.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add in the noodles (we use Tinkinyada gluten free brown rice spirals), cook according to directions.  Drain and rinse set aside.  There should be plenty extra to store in refrigerator for more soup – we keep them separate, adding in just before serving.
  • When done, pull out the chicken and allow to cool on a plate for a few minutes.
  • Turn off the heat. Taste the broth – add salt if needed (if too salty, just add a little water).
  • When cool enough to touch, shred or chop the chicken and return it to the pot.
  • Put desired amount of noodles in a bowl, and pour soup broth over it. Serve with gluten free crackers (we like Scheff brand).

If you want to make some Mexican style – while the broth is cooking, chop the following:

  • A roma tomato (or slice some grape tomatoes)
  • Handful of baby spinach
  • Some cilantro
  • Optional – some jalapeno
  • Ancho chili powder (a couple shakes)
  • Slice open an avocado – remove the pit and score it with crosshatches.
  • Slice a wedge of a lime.

Directions:

  • Pour broth with chopped chicken into a separate saucepan, adding in some chili powder, and the above number 1-5 garnishes.
  • Allow to come to a simmer.
  • Pour the soup into a bowl, add a squeeze of fresh lime juice and scoop out the avocado chunks.
  • Optional – you can add some leftover rice or rice noodles if you like too.
  • Serve & enjoy!  This is a delicious and refreshing soup!  Great for lunch or dinner.

Store leftover broth in airtight container in the refrigerator (store the rice noodles in a separate container).

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

share with friends
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

Comment Using Facebook

Free E-Book!