Quick Cinnamon Vanilla Cashew Milk

April 12, 2016
Cinnamon Cashew Milk

 

I am not one to drink a glass of milk for a snack – unless it is cashew milk! For some reason – I just love a nice cold glass of cashew milk.  If I add a little cinnamon and vanilla to it – it is a serious treat! You could also add a teaspoon or two of raw cacao powder to make this a Mexican Chocolate Milk.  This milk is great in coffee, and also quite filling and satisfying due to the healthy fats and protein. The cinnamon supports healthy blood sugar levels too.

And best of all – this recipe whips up in about 3 mins too!  Why buy store-bought milk (many of which contain the questionable ingredient carrageenan) when you can make it at home in 3 mins?

Quick Cinnamon Vanilla Cashew Milk:

makes one 8 oz. glass of milk (store any leftover in refrigerator for up to 2 days)

  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 rounded teaspoons of raw cashew butter (available at most health food stores)
  • 1/3 – 1/2 scoop of vanilla protein powder (I like Warrior Blend Vanilla).
  • pinch of Himalayan salt to taste (omit if using salted nut butter)
  • vanilla extract – to taste (I like about 1/2 teaspoon)
  • cinnamon – to taste (I prefer Ceylon cinnamon – and used about 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 2-4 ice cubes (to make milk cold)

Put everything except the ice into the blender and blend well to combine.  Add in the desired amount of ice cubes – blend again – and pour into a glass.  Add a sprinkle of cinnamon on top if desired.  You could also omit the vanilla and cinnamon if you needed a plain/savory milk for recipes.

Want to make cashew milk using the nut (not nut butter), and find out how to increase the calcium and fiber content?  Click to learn more about The Best Alternative Milk!!

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.

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Zippy & Refreshing Ginger Lemonade

March 9, 2016
Ginger Lemonade

Do you like ginger?  Ginger root is warming and calming to the digestive tract. It can help to reduce gas and indigestion, and can even help to relieve nausea and motion sickness. It has potent anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties, potentially even offering relief to arthritis and asthma sufferers.

GingerResearch published on September, 2015 found a compound in ginger to be 10,000x more potent than chemo against cancer cells, read more here.

I have been literally obsessed with ginger lately – it is featured in my Green Lemonade recipe, and it is the star of this fresh Ginger Lemonade – a wonderful way to include ginger in your life!

Ginger Lemonade Ingredients:

  • 1 piece of ginger root (about 3 inches long – more if you like more ginger flavor)
  • 3-5 lemons
  • 2.5 cups of filtered or alkaline water
  • a pinch (up to 1/8 tsp) of Himalayan or Celtic salt (brings out the sweetness and flavors, adds minerals and sodium – an important electrolyte).
  • Your choice of natural sweetener

Directions:peeling ginger

  1. Peel the ginger root (I use the end of a spoon to remove the peel), then grate or thinly slice it.
  2. Add the ginger to the water on the stove, bring it to a boil, then turn off the heat and cover it with a lid.
  3. Allow the ginger to steep for about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Strain the liquid through the grated or sliced ginger out (reserve to make ginger and cucumber water – see below).
  5. Squeeze your lemons into the ginger liquid.
  6. Add a pinch (up to 1/8th a teaspoon) of Himalayan salt (Don’t skip this – it brings out the sweetness and flavors, you will need less sweetener if you use the salt!).
  7. Add your favorite natural sweetener to taste – and stir to combine. Suggestions: stevia, monk fruit, raw honey, coconut sugar, organic cane sugar* or rapadura sugar – or a blend of the above).  Try 1/4 teaspoon of stevia, and 1-2 teaspoons of raw honey – taste and adjust. Start with less sweetener – you can always add more as needed (make sure you added the salt – you will need less sweetener).
  8. Pour over ice.  This is fairly concentrated – so feel free to add a little additional water if you like, or you could also add a little sparkling water if you want this to be fizzy!  This also can make a delicious cocktail. 
  9. Enjoy!!

*avoid sugar made with sugar beets – as that is typically GMO.

 

Ginger Cucumber ‘Spa’ Water:

This water supports hydration, digestion and is anti-flammatory.

Ingredients:

  • Ginger cucumber mint water2 quarts of filtered or alkaline water
  • the ginger leftover from the above recipe (thinly sliced ginger is a little prettier and less messy than the grated for the water)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Celtic or pink Himalayan salt
  • 1 small cucumber – sliced
  • optional – a few sprigs of fresh mint – really makes it fragrant and fresh!

Put all of the ingredients into a large jar – allow the flavors to come together for a couple hours.  Strain as you pour into a glass.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

 

Learn more about Ginger:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=72

 

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.

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Sara’s Green Lemonade

March 8, 2016
Sara's Green Lemonade

There is nothing more refreshing and energizing in my mind than a freshly pressed detoxifying green juice!!

This green lemonade recipe is my go-to favorite juice – it features alkalizing lemons & greens, warming & soothing ginger, a little sweetness and detoxifying malic acid from the granny smith apples, heavy metals-detoxifying parsley, and the celery adds organic sodium – a very important electrolyte for proper hydration and muscle/nerve support.

Metabolism-Boosting Green Lemonade

Ingredients (makes about 24 oz. of juice):

  • 1-2 organic granny smith apples
  • Peeled ginger (I like mine to have a strong ginger flavor – so to use about a 3 inch piece)
  • 1-2 organic lemons (most of peel removed – including some of the peel adds in vitamin C and a stronger lemon flavor)
  • 6-7 organic kale leaves
  • 1 organic romaine heart
  • a small bunch of organic parsley
  • 1 small organic cucumber
  • 2-3 celery stalks
  • 1 teaspoon of avocado oil, or 2 teaspoons of chia seeds (stir in and allow to soak)*

Directions: Put everything (except the avocado oil/chia seeds) into the juicer.* Pour desired amount into a glass, save the rest in a glass jar in refrigerator up to 1 day. Stir in the avocado oil (or if using chia seeds – stir and allow them to soak 3-5 minutes before drinking).  *If you don’t have a juicer – use your blender and strain out the pulp if you like!

*Why add the chia seeds or avocado oil to this drink?
Many of the vitamins in a green drink are fat soluble, so in order for them to be properly absorbed, there needs to be a carrier – a fat source. The fat also helps to keep the blood sugar stable, which is important for a healthy metabolism. You could also have this juice with a handful of almonds, half an avocado, or you could take your fish oil supplement too!

Read more: The Key Ingredient Your Green Juice is Missing.

**Note: when making juice – I highly recommend using only organic ingredients – because each 8 oz. serving can contain 2 pounds of produce – and conventional fruits and vegetables can be treated with pesticides (especially important for the Dirty Dozen and anything that you do not remove the peel).  Also – make sure to rinse (or peel) your ingredients before juicing. **

Sara Vance Juicing

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.

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Pineapple Mint & Coconut Smoothie

May 4, 2015
Pineapple Mint Refresher

I had a big bunch of mint and a fresh pineapple, and some coconut in the freezer – so this morning I whipped up this pineapple mint smoothie – it was absolutely delicious and refreshing, it made me feel like I was in the tropics!!  Pineapple, mint, coconut and chia seeds all support healthy hydration and digestion. I think this will be a new staple for Summer/Spring for me, and I hope for you too.  This recipe is dairy-free, vegan and gluten free. 

Pineapple Mint Coconut Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup of coconut water
  • 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen pineapple* chunks
  • 1/3 cup of fresh or frozen coconut flesh (find inner eco frozen coconut in freezer section – use 1 packet, or you can sub 1/4 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut, or 1 Tablespoon of coconut manna).
  • 1/2 cup of fresh mint leaves (or combination of fresh mint and baby spinach)
  • 1-2 big pinches of high quality salt – like pink Himalayan
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of chia seeds
  • Ice as desired to thicken/chill.

Put the coconut water and chia seeds into the blender – allow to soak.  Add in the rest of the ingredients and blend to combine.  Add in a handful (or whatever amount desired) of ice cubes and blend.  Serve immediately!

Nutritional Benefits:

  • Pineapple: One of America’s top two favorite tropical fruits – second only to the banana – pineapples are in peak season from March through June. One cup of pineapple also provides a full day’s supply of vitamin C, is an excellent source of manganese, and a good source of fiber and a number of other nutrients including vitamin B6 and copper. Pineapple is also rich in bromelain, which is an enzyme that can be helpful to digestion and provides anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Mint: A wonderful herb for digestion, mint also has antiseptic qualities and can be used as a mouth refreshener. Steep mint leaves to make a tea that is calming to the digestion. Fresh mint is a wonderful addition to iced tea as well. And the oil of the peppermint leaves has a number of uses ranging from digestion to relaxation.
  • Coconut – the flesh of a coconut provides a wide array of nutrients – from vitamins and minerals to healthy fats – which help to stabilize blood sugar, increase satiety, and supports the absorption of fat soluble vitamins. The fat in coconut is high in medium chain fatty acids, which is more easily converted to energy. Coconuts are also naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, which helps to cleanse and detox. Coconuts are rich in electrolytes – which makes them a useful tool for hydration.
  • Chia seeds: One of the reasons I became a Nutritionist – I could not believe how much just adding this one seed to my diet could change my energy, digestion, hydration, and more.  Chia seeds are a great addition to smoothies because they boost the fiber, protein, healthy fat, and omega 3 content of the smoothie.  Chia fiber is unique in that it soaks up about 10 times it’s weight in water, creating a gel.  Chia gel helps the body to hold onto hydration, slows the absorption of sugar into the blood stream, and helps to keep you fuller/satisfied longer. If you have sensitive digestion – start with less chia seeds – and make sure they are well hydrated before eating them. Read Pre-hydrate with Chia to learn more about this amazing seed.

*Note: If you are prone to getting canker sores from pineapple, you might want to substitute mango for the pineapple in the smoothie recipe.

Save your pineapple core in the refrigerator or freezer – I am posting a recipe tomorrow that will make use of the core!

Sources:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=34

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=102

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/herbs-and-spices/health-benefits-of-mint.html

 

 

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.

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Cinnamon Apple Sweet Potato Pie Smoothie

June 10, 2014
smoothie

One of the most interesting things about sweet potatoes, is that despite having “sweet” in their name, and tasting sweet, they are low glycemic.  Low glycemic foods gradually raise your bloodsugar. Sweet potatoes spike your bloodsugar significantly less than a regular white potato!

They are a nearly perfect food with high fiber, rich in vitamins like beta carotene (which gives it’s flesh the rich orange color), and have been shown to aid in recovery for athletes. Read 15 Superfoods for Peak Performance to learn about how sweet potatoes and other foods are good for performance and recovery.

I actually prefer yams over sweet potatoes, because they are darker in color, which means richer in vitamins and nutrients (sweet potatoes and yams are often used interchangeably and confused). So this recipe should really be called yam pie – but that does not sound as good.

Last night we had roasted sweet potatoes and I sprinkled on some cinnamon and swirled in some applesauce into them.  It was so good – it tasted like a cross between apple and pumpkin pie.   So today I decided to recreate that yumminess with a Cinnamon Apple Sweet Potato Pie smoothie!

Cinnamon Apple Sweet Potato Pie Smoothie:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cooked sweet potato/or yam (I prefer using roasted) – you could also use pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup coconut water
  • 2 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • 6 raw cashews (ideally soak for 2-6 hours, then drain) – you could use 1-2 Tablespoons hemp hearts, or a scoop of vanilla Warrior Blend protein powder instead – this adds creaminess
  • 2-3 Tablespoons organic applesauce (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Ceylon cinnamon* (or more if you prefer – I do!)
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut oil, or raw coconut meat (supports energy & metabolism)
  • dash of pink Himalayan salt (I add this to all my smoothies – brings out the sweetness, flavors, boosts the trace minerals, supports the adrenals).
  • Splash of pure vanilla extract.
  • Ice as needed to thicken

Directions:

  1. Put the water and coconut water into the blender, add the chia seeds and let them soak for 3-5 mins.
  2. Then add in the rest of the ingredients – blend.
  3. Add ice as desired to thicken.
  4. Taste and adjust.
  5. Serve & enjoy!

Whip this up before heading to the gym, because it is chock full of superfoods for peak performance!!

* Cinnamon is a wonderful spice for supporting healthy blood sugar levels. The more common form of cinnamon sold in the United States is cassia cinnamon. Cassia has coumarin, a compound that is toxic to the liver in high doses. Although less common in the U.S., Ceylon type of cinnamon is considered “true” cinnamon, and it does not contain coumarin.  It might be a little more expensive, but I find Ceylon to be milder, a little sweeter, and more complex – definitely the best cinnamon choice!

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.

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15 Superfoods for Peak Performance

January 21, 2014
bigstock-chia-seeds-in-a-rustic-oval-wo-40769023

The other day I drove into a Rancho Santa Fe gas station, and just as I was about to jump out to go pump my gas, the nice attendant came up and asked me “I’d be happy to pump your gas for you.  Premium fuel today?”  Yes, please, I respond and get back in the drivers seat. “Wow, they have good service at this gas station,” I say to my son. I glance back at the pump and notice that they also have 100 octane fuel, I had never seen that before, and boy is it expensive – over $6 a gallon!  I think to myself, that must be the super premium fuel for all those Ferrari’s and other high performance cars that you see zipping around Rancho Santa Fe all the time.  It stands to reason that the higher performance car you have, the higher quality of fuel it needs.

That stop at the Rancho Santa Fe gas station got me thinking about sports nutrition.  Athletes are kind of like high performance cars.  Just as we expect sports cars to perform better than an average car, athletes put higher demands on their body and seek superior performance.  Putting the wrong gas into a Ferrari can mean lower performance, and overtime could land it in the shop for repairs or even create damage to the motor/inner workings.  The same is true for young athletes – if they are choosing lots of junk food, they might not end up with optimal performance, or over time could end up with chronic inflammation and be plagued with injuries.

Endurance and elite athletes burn a significant amount of calories, so they can and need to regularly eat a lot of calories to replenish their energy reserves.  But just because they can polish off a box of donuts or a large soda and a couple 20 piece nuggets and still not gain weight, does not mean that they should.  Just like a Ferrari, athletes should consider putting in the best possible fuel if they want peak performance.

Because of the extra demands they put on their bodies, it is important for athletes to consume a diet rich in plant-based foods, high quality (ideally grass-fed) protein sources, plenty of healthy fats, and limit nutrient-deficient and inflammation-causing foods (foods that contain a lot of sugar, trans fats, or too many omega 6 fats – found in vegetable oils, soy oils, etc).

One of the best foods an athlete can add to their training regime are superfoods.  Superfoods are highly nutrient dense foods that provide an abundance of nutrition and can potentially improve performance and overall health…kind of like “super premium” fuel.

At the top of my list of functional foods for athletes are these 15 superfoods.

15 Superfoods for Peak Performance:

  1. Chia Seeds – Without a doubt, chia seeds are my number one recommendation for athletes. An ancient Aztec superfood, chia seeds gave the Aztec warriors the long-lasting energy and endurance they needed to go into battle.  Chia seeds are an essential addition to the athletes’ diet, boosting endurance, energy, hydration, focus/attention, and reducing 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 proven brain and mood food, which can help athletes with focus and attention – to keep their head in the game. Omega 3s are shown to lower inflammation – which is helpful to reduce 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.
  2. Raw Cacao – Exercising increases the formation of free radicals, so a diet high in antioxidants is important for athletes.  One of the most nutritionally complex foods on earth, cacao has an oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) score of 95,500 per 100 grams, making it one of the best sources of antioxidants, which is helpful in preventing free radical damage. But perhaps what is even more important for athletes is that cacao is one of the best food sources of magnesium. Magnesium is required for over 300 enzymatic reactions, including the synthesis of fat, protein and nucleic acids, muscular contraction and relaxation, cardiac health and bone building. Magnesium improves blood flow and plays a key role in the metabolism of adenosine triphoshate (ATP), critical for aerobic and anaerobic functions. Cacao is also rich in potassium, iron, polyphenols, flavanols, theobromine, and proanthocyanidins.  Cacao offers a long list of health benefits including reducing heart attack and stroke, lowering blood pressure, boosting mood and brain function, lowering stress, relaxing muscles, boosting our skin’s internal SPF, and much more.  A recent Journal of Physiology study suggests that antioxidants in cacao may help bolster exercise endurance. Try this Choco-Banana Super Smoothie – which contains 5 Superfoods for Performance (chia seeds, cacao, coconut water, pink Himalayan salt, and banana).
  3. Coconut water – often referred to as nature’s Gatorade, coconut water is an excellent hydration tool, naturally rich in electrolytes and also a source of natural quick energy.  When athletes sweat, they lose fluids and electroytes, coconut water helps to replenish the lost fluids, electrolytes, and also provides a natural source of carbohydrate to replenish lost glycogen (energy) stores.
  4. Himalayan Sea Salt – along with fluids, athletes lose sodium and other minerals when they exercise and sweat, which need to be replenished.  High quality air dried sea salts or pink Himalayan salts contain beneficial minerals and trace minerals that are missing from table salts.  Table salts also contain anti-clumping additives which are not in natural sea salts.  I recommend that athletes use only the highest quality salts when they are making foods at home – put a pinch of Himalayan salt into smoothies (it brings out the sweetness and flavors too!), and always cook with high quality salts, which along with the sodium contain a number of important minerals that the body needs.  Sometimes when we crave salty foods, our bodies are seeking minerals – which are lacking in processed and packaged foods.
  5. Bananas – are a an excellent complex carbohydrate to consume 30 minutes before a race, one banana contains approximately 467mg of potassium, an energy-supplying electrolyte which provides protection to the cardiovascular system. Green tipped bananas contain a prebiotic which aids in digestion and the body’s ability to absorb calcium.  High in vitamin B6, bananas help to support sleep, neurotransmitters (brain chemicals), and white blood cell formation. Bananas are also known for minimizing muscle cramping.  Slice them and top cereals, oatmeal, or add them to smoothies.
  6. Coconut Oil – might seem like an odd food to include in a list of superfoods for athletes.  But it is a very unique fat that can offer athletes a lot of benefits.  First, it is a medium chain fatty acid, which is 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, it is less likely to cause stomach upset than other fats. Coconut oil is also a natural antiviral and antibacterial, which supports a healthy immune system.  It can be used topically as well to help with skin irritation and dryness. I recommend adding a teaspoon of coconut oil to your morning smoothie, or oatmeal.
  7. Sweet Potatoes – Despite their naturally sweet taste, sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index which means they can be absorbed and used gradually, preventing the blood sugar from spiking and crashing. Sweet potatoes have been shown to improve blood sugar, even in Type 2 Diabetics. One of the best sources of beta-carotene, sweet potatoes raise our blood levels of vitamin A, which is a fat soluble vitamin and is best absorbed when eaten with some dietary fat, so don’t be afraid to put a little grass-fed butter on them!  That will help you absorb the nutrients!  Sweet potatoes are a good carbohydrate source for athletes and also helpful in preventing inflammation, which aids in recovery.
  8. Teff – The word teff means ‘lost,’ a reference to the fact that the grains are so small that if you dropped them, they will be nearly impossible to find. An ancient North African cereal grass, teff has an good balance of B vitamins, amino acids/protein, calcium, zinc, and is an excellent source of iron to help prevent anemia. Teff has as much protein as an egg, is gluten free, and has a nutty, molasses-like flavor.
  9. Berries – Eating foods high in antioxidants is critical for athletes, who can suffer up to 200 times the free radical damage compared to their less active counterparts.  Scientists have found that a diet rich in antioxidants may help with exercise recovery by reducing muscular damage. Blueberries, acai, pomegrante, and goji berries are all good sources of antioxidants.  Berries are also a good source of fiber.  Snack on them, or toss them into a smoothie or on top of your cereal.  Dried berries are a good addition to trail mixes.
  10. Almonds – a good source of vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, manganese, copper, riboflavin, monounsaturated fats and protein; almonds are nutritional powerhouses.  A small handful of almonds a few times a week can be helpful in lowering cholesterol, and preventing heart disease.  Almonds are useful in nervous system and muscle recovery. Other tree nuts are also beneficial, such as cashews, walnuts and Brazil nuts.
  11. Kale – High in nutrients like vitamin K, magnesium, vitamin C, calcium, folate, zinc and iron, kale is one of the most nutritious vegetables on the planet. Sneak some into your smoothie, or chop it up and add it to soups, or omelettes – kale packs a big punch.
  12. Quinoa – Often considered a grain, quinoa is not a grain, but a seed.  Naturally gluten free, quinoa is a good replacement for grains.  It contains high levels of both carbohydrates and protein, with all nine essential amino acids, which are critical to many biochemical functions. Quinoa has a rich history as a sports nutrition tool. The Incas used it to increase the stamina of their warriors, helping them to run long distances at high altitudes. Quinoa is a good source of manganese, magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium and calcium.
  13. Raisins – offer a quick source of concentrated energy, and are also a good source of potassium and magnesium, which helps to balance our body’s pH, and also is important for athletes to replenish when they work out and sweat.  Raisins also contain calcium, and a substance called boron, both of which are important in building strong bones.  Athletes need to make sure they are getting plenty of bone-building nutrients to prevent stress fractures and breaks.  Raisins also contain fiber, which helps promote good digestion.
  14. Hemp Seeds – an excellent vegan source of easily digested protein, hemp seeds contain all 10 essential amino acids. Just 3 Tablespoons of Hemp Seeds = 11 grams of protein. Hemp seeds provides an array of minerals including zinc, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and iron. Hemp seeds contain a healthy ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, hemp seeds contain an especially beneficial type of omega-6 fat called GLA (gamma linolenic acid), which supports anti-inflammatory hormones and facilitates fat-burning.
  15. Avocados – are full of healthy fats that help to reduce our inflammation, boost the absorption of certain vitamins (fat-soluble ones), and are actually a high fiber food. Avocados are a good source of carotenoids, vitamin K, vitamins B5 & B6, vitamin c, folate and potassium. Avocados promote bone and heart health, and help manage blood sugar.  Adding avocados to smoothies can make them light and fluffy and boost the fiber, vitamin content, and help to keep you satisfied longer.

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.

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New Year’s Eve Hangover Prevention

December 27, 2013
Glasses with champagne against fireworks and holiday lights
Categories: Chia, Detox, Holidays, Hydration

As you navigate the party circuit this New Years Eve, here are some tips to help you plan ahead and avoid the ole’ dreaded hangover.  Also, watch this segment on Fox 5 San Diego.

How Alcohol Affects Us: 

Let’s first understand how alcohol affects the body. Approximately 20% of alcohol is absorbed through the stomach and most of the remaining 80% is absorbed through the small intestine.  So making sure to eat something before your first cocktail is important. Then the liver goes to work – it sends out enzymes to break down and metabolize the alcohol. Generally, the liver can only process one ounce of alcohol (approx. one standard drink) on average in one hour. Consuming more than the liver can metabolize, causes alcohol to accumulate in the blood and body tissues.

Alcohol Affects Women Faster:

Women shouldn’t try to keep up pace with their male counterparts – women tend to be affected by alcohol more than men for several reasons:

  • Women have less water in their bodies by volume, they will dilute alcohol less than men.
  • Women have less dehydrogenase, a liver enzyme that breaks down alcohol, so they will break it down slower.
  • Estrogen can also slow down the body’s ability to process alcohol.

Alcohol is a toxin:

Consuming more alcohol than the liver can process, will cause the alcohol to accumulate in the blood and tissues. Ethanol is metabolized into acetaldehyde, which is a toxin.  Until it can be broken down into acetic acid, the body will be experiencing the negative effects of the acetaldehyde.

Some of the preservatives, sulfites and chemicals in wine and alcoholic beverages can add to the burden on the liver and make you feel crummy the next day, so using more natural alternatives will help lighten the liver’s toxic load.

Alcohol Dehydrates

Ethanol increases urine production, and therefore dehydrates us.  Dehydration is one of the reasons we feel terrible the next morning after one too many drinks.  Severe dehydration can not only make you uncomfortable, but it can be life-threatening.  So preventing dehydration is one key to preventing a hangover and staying safe.  One way to prevent dehydration is to make sure to alternate water in between your alcoholic drinks, this will help you stay hydrated, and keep blood alcohol from rising too quickly.

Alcohol can irritate

Not only can excess alcohol make people irritating (LOL), alcohol can be irritating to our stomach lining, which can make us feel nauseated and sick.

Alcohol Can Lead to Bloodsugar Lows

Drinking alcohol can also affect our bloodsugar levels – one reason that we might not sleep as well after having a drink too many – our blood sugar can drop in the middle of the night, and wake us up.  Another reason is the glutamine rebound, read more about that here.

7 Natural Hangover Prevention Tips:

If you are heading to a party, a little planning today can go a long way to make tomorrow better…

  1. Chia seeds – when chia seeds come into contact with liquid, it soaks up about 10 times it’s own weight in liquid, creating a gel – this chia gel slows the absorption of sugar and alcohol into blood stream, and helps to keep you hydrated. You never want to drink on an empty stomach!!  Add some chia seeds to a smoothie or grab a Mamma Chia drink or squeeze pack.  Always make sure to take chia seeds with plenty of fluids, it is best if you let them soak for a few minutes before ingesting them too.  Read Prehydrate with Chia to learn more.
  2. Coconut oil – multiple studies show that the medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil protect the liver.  So if I am going to have a drink or two, I like to have a teaspoon of coconut oil first.  Add it to tea or stir it into a smoothie!
  3. Coconut water – called “Natures Gatorade,” coconut water provides the body with more potassium than a banana, a daily supply of vitamins C, and other important vitamins and minerals.  Coconut water provides electrolytes to help prevent dehydration.
  4. Beet juice – rich in a class of antioxidants called betalains, beets are well known for detoxifying the liver, also provide loads of energy (Olympic athletes use beet juice for training – and they say it is like legal blood doping!).  So instead of an energy drink before the party – take a shot of beet juice, it will give you energy and get your liver ready to do it’s work!!
  5. Vitamins B & C – alcohol depletes the body of vitamins and minerals – taking a multivitamin with B & C helps with alcohol metabolism & replenish the lost vitamins.
  6. Magnesium – alcohol consumption depletes magnesium, and low magnesium can bring on migraines among other symptoms (restless legs, eye twitches, muscle aches & pains).  Low magnesium levels even raise our risk of heart attack and stroke.  The majority of Americans are deficient in magnesium, so I recommend that most people take supplemental magnesium.  Magnesium is also responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body.  Too much magnesium can lead to loose stools, so start with a low dose initially.
  7. Skip the “house margarita,” it probably is made with cheap tequila and a premade mix. A lot of premade mixers contain preservatives, artificial colors, HFCS, and other chemicals that will just add to the toxic load on your liver.  Fructose was shown in multiple studies to boost alcohol metabolism by as much as 80%, so using fresh fruit juice and/or organic agave nectar in place of processed mixers to sweeten your drinks is a better choice than a premade mix with chemicals and preservatives.

Moderation – perhaps the most important step in avoiding a hangover is to practice moderation – make sure you do not drink on an empty stomach, limit yourself to no more than what your liver can process (about 1 drink per hour – max), and make sure to alternate with fresh filtered water to stay hydrated.

3 Natural Hangover Treatments:

Didn’t read this article before you went out?  Already overdid it? The old adage “hair of the dog” is just going to delay the inevitable pain and discomfort so…instead, try some of these alternative remedies.

  1. Drink artichoke, turmeric*, ginger & lemon tea (“Ultimate Detox” recipe below) – this is the ultimate detox drink – I love to make this in the Summer and drink it on ice even if I did not drink at all the night before – it is yummy and wonderful liver and gallbladder tonic!

    Turmeric Roots

    Turmeric root

    • turmeric* will help to reduce the pain & inflammation (puffy eyes, anyone?) – it is kind of like nature’s Advil.
    • ginger helps with stomach upset (natural Pepto)
    • artichoke is detoxifying to the liver, also helpful in lowering cholesterol!
    • lemon will help to support the liver detox and balance out your pH.
    • High quality mineral-rich celtic or pink Himalayan salt helps to replenish sodium that is lost from dehydration
    • Add in a touch of honey or agave – because studies show that fructose (yes – the demonized fructose) is actually really good at metabolizing alcohol and will help to process what is left.  
  2. Put an electrolyte & vitamin C pack into your water – don’t have any fresh ginger and turmeric root laying around? Then grab one of those electrolyte vitamin packs – and stir it into a tall glass of water – it will help to replace the lost electrolytes and vitamins and help you feel better.
  3. Have a banana or some coconut water – both are excellent sources of potassium – which alcohol depletes. Bananas also soothe the stomach – and alcohol can damage the stomach lining and make you feel nauseated.

If you do decide to take a pain reliever the next day – avoid acetaminophen – because it can harm the already overtaxed liver.

Ultimate Detox Tea Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • organic artichoke (can’t find an organic artichoke?  Skip it then or use organic artichoke tincture– artichokes can be high in pesticides and the last thing you need is pesticide tea. You can also buy artichoke capsules.  This is delicious with or without the artichoke!)
  • one 2 inch piece of ginger root, peeled
  • one 1 inch piece of turmeric* root, peeled
  • The juice from 3 organic lemons
  • 1/8 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt (or Celtic sea salt, or Real Salt)
  • agave, honey and/or stevia to taste

Directions:  Thoroughly rinse the artichoke – making sure to get dirt out between leaves.  Cut it lengthwise twice, so it is in 4 pieces. Peel the turmeric and the ginger, cut into a few slices (use a spoon to peel, that is the best way!).  Put the artichoke, ginger and turmeric root into a large pot filled with filtered water (about 8-10 cups) over high heat – once it comes to a rolling boil, turn it down to a simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.  Take it off the heat and allow it to cool in the pot for about 20-30 mins.  When it is cooled, strain it and put it into a glass jar. Squeeze in the juice from 3 lemons, add in the salt, and approx. 2 teaspoons of agave and 10 drops of stevia liquid (or your choice of sweetener – add more or less as you like, to taste).  Serve over ice, or room temperature if you prefer (I like it iced).

NOTE: As with all herbs and supplements, please consult your doctor if you are on medication before taking this tea.  Herbs can very powerful and may interfere with and interact with medications! 

*Contraindications: Turmeric should not be used by people with gallstones or bile obstruction. Though turmeric is often used by pregnant women, it is important to consult with a doctor before doing so as turmeric can be a uterine stimulant.

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.

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Hydrating Foods to Beat the Heat

August 5, 2013
watermelon
As the thermostat goes up, so does the body’s requirement for fluids.  Dehydration can occur when the body loses fluids, does not take in enough – or a combination of the two.  When the body loses a significant enough amount of fluids, lost electrolytes should also be replenished along with the lost water.  Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electric charge and are important for the proper functioning of nerves, muscles, and to maintain proper fluid levels in the blood and cells. The minerals sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chlorine and phosphate are all electrolytes.

 

According to some recent studies, certain plant-based foods hydrate better than plain ole’ water, because in addition to their high water content, they come paired with natural electrolytes, minerals, and vitamins.  So eating plenty of plant based foods, or having a glass of freshly pressed organic juice is a great way to rehydrate the body on a hot day.

 

Move over Gatorade, and make room for these naturally hydrating foods:

 

  • Watermelon: Over 90% water, watermelons also contain many of the things the body loses with sweating – including natural sugars, calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium.  Rich in beta carotene, vitamin C and lycopene, watermelon is also helpful in protecting the body from free radical damage that comes with exercise and sun exposure. Lycopene was even shown to provide the body with a little bit of internal sunscreen (read more: Eat Your Sunscreen).
  • Celery: Crunching on celery sticks on a hot day can help to return lost sodium and potassium to the body.  Sodium gets a bad rap, but the body needs organic sodium – which is found in foods like celery, coconut, and high quality natural salts like pink Himalayan. Sodium works in conjunction with potassium to regulate fluids and nutrients in cells and is important for maintaining mineral balances, digestion, metabolism, nerve function, and more.  I also love to add a few celery stalks to my fresh pressed juice too!
  • Grapes: An excellent source of potassium and manganese, grapes can help us stay cool and hydrated. They also contain resveratrol – a nutrient associated with anti-aging, anti-inflammation, and many other benefits, so grapes can help keep us looking and feeling young.  There is almost nothing more refreshing than a handful of grapes on a hot summer day, except maybe frozen grapes!  Pop some grapes into the freezer – they are kind of like nature’s popsicle.
  • Cucumber: Another high water content vegetable, cucumbers are also a good source of vitamin C, and an anti-inflammatory compound called caffeic acid, which is why putting cucumber slices on your eyes can help reduce puffiness.  Cucumbers are a refreshing addition to a salad and are great in a fresh pressed juice.
  • Coconut water: Referred to as “nature’s Gatorade,” coconut water supports hydration with 5 different electrolytes – sodium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium.  Coconut water so closely matches the profile of human blood, that it has been used as intravenous fluid in a pinch.  In addition to it’s hydrating properties, coconut water is a good recovery tool for athletes because it also contains natural sugars to help to replenish lost glycogen stores.

Some other foods, that despite not being high in water content, when paired with fluids, can help to rehydrate (and even prehydrate) the body as well:

  • Avocado: One regular avocado contains almost twice as much potassium as a banana! Avocados also contain phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, and zinc – which is important for carbohydrate and protein metabolism.  Avocados are rich in vitamins B, C, E & K, and are also surprisingly high in fiber – with 1/2 an avocado containing almost 7 grams!  The healthy fats in avocados can help us to feel satisfied, provide us with lasting energy, and are a great addition to a salad because they boost the body’s ability to absorb fat soluble vitamins.
  • Chia Seeds:  Chia seeds are not high in water content, but they are a great hydration tool because they are uniquely hydrophilic – meaning each little seed can absorb approximately 10-12 times of it’s own weight in water.  When chia seeds come into contact with fluids, it soaks them up and creates a gel. Chia gel can prolong hydration by retaining electrolytes in body fluids, making it an excellent tool for hydration.  Always make sure to take chia seeds with plenty of water, or they will soak up fluids internally, potentially increasing dehydration.  A great addition to a smoothie, athletes can use chia gel to pre-hydrate before their workout or competition.  Read Pre-hydrate with Chia to learn more.
  • Sea vegetables: Not your typical sports nutrition food, seaweed and other sea vegetables should be in more athletes’ bags!  Containing virtually all the minerals found in the ocean, when taken with water, seaweed is an excellent hydration tool for replenishing lost minerals from sweating.  Seaweed are rich in calcium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, vanadium, and zinc.  Perhaps best known for their iodine content – sea vegetables like kelp can be useful for boosting the function of the thyroid gland.
On hot Summer days, I love to start my day with a hydrating smoothie or chia pudding, and then refuel later with a refreshing and energizing fresh pressed juice.  Find my healthy chia pudding and “green lemonade” recipes in my free Cooking with Superfoods ebook.
Watch this segment on Hydrating Foods on Fox 5 San Diego, August 2013.

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.

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Natural Hangover Prevention & Treatment

July 15, 2013
bigstock-chia-seeds-in-a-rustic-oval-wo-40769023

With Opening Day at the Del Mar Racetrack this Wednesday, and Comic Con this weekend – this is one of the biggest party weeks of the year in San Diego.  So as you navigate the party circuit, here are some tips to help you plan ahead and avoid the ole’ dreaded hangover.

Let’s first understand how alcohol affects the body. Approximately 20% of alcohol is absorbed through the stomach and most of the remaining 80% is absorbed through the small intestine.  So making sure to eat something before your first cocktail is important. Then the liver goes to work – it sends out enzymes to break down and metabolize the alcohol. Generally, the liver can only process one ounce of alcohol (approx. one standard drink) on average in one hour. Consuming more than the liver can metabolize, causes alcohol to accumulate in the blood and body tissues.  Women shouldn’t try to keep up pace with their male counterparts – women tend to be affected by alcohol more than men for several reasons:

  • Women have less water in their bodies by volume, they will dilute alcohol less than men.
  • Women have less dehydrogenase, a liver enzyme that breaks down alcohol, so they will break it down slower.
  • Estrogen can also slow down the body’s ability to process alcohol.

Hangover Causes:

  • Consuming more alcohol than the liver can process, will cause the alcohol to accumulate in the blood and tissues. Ethanol is metabolized into acetaldehyde, which is a toxin.  Until it can be broken down into acetic acid, the body will be experiencing the negative effects of the acetaldehyde.
  • Ethanol increases urine production, and therefore dehydrates us.  Dehydration is one of the reasons we feel terrible the next morning after one too many drinks.  Severe dehydration can not only make you uncomfortable, but it can be life-threatening.  So preventing dehydration is one key to preventing a hangover and staying safe.  One way to prevent dehydration is to make sure to alternate water in between your alcoholic drinks, this will help you stay hydrated, and keep blood alcohol from rising too quickly.
  • Some of the preservatives, sulfites and chemicals in wine and alcoholic beverages can add to the burden on the liver and make you feel crummy the next day, so using more natural alternatives will help lighten the liver’s toxic load.
  • Alcohol can be really tough on our stomach lining, which can make us feel nauseated and sick.
  • Drinking alcohol can also affect our bloodsugar levels – one reason that we might not sleep as well after having a drink too many – our blood sugar can drop in the middle of the night, and wake us up.  Another reason is the glutamine rebound, read more about that here.

7 Natural Hangover Prevention Tips:

If you are heading to a party, a little planning today can go a long way to make tomorrow better…

  1. Chia seeds – soaks up about 10 times it’s weight in water, creating a gel – this gel slows the absorption of alcohol into blood stream, and helps to keep you hydrated. You never want to drink on an empty stomach!!  Add some chia seeds to a smoothie or grab a Mamma Chia drink or squeeze pack.  Always make sure to take chia seeds with plenty of fluids, it is best if you let them soak for a few minutes before ingesting them too.  Read Prehydrate with Chia to learn more.
  2. Coconut oil – multiple studies show that the medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil protect the liver.  So if I am going to have a drink or two, I like to have a teaspoon of coconut oil first.  Add it to tea, a smoothie, or stir it into your Mamma Chia drink!
  3. Coconut water – called “Natures Gatorade,” coconut water provides the body with more potassium than a banana, a daily supply of vitamins C, and other important vitamins and minerals.  Coconut water provides electrolytes to help prevent dehydration.
  4. Beet juice – rich in a class of antioxidants called betalains, beets are well known for detoxifying the liver, also provide loads of energy (Olympic athletes use beet juice for training – and they say it is like legal blood doping!).  So instead of an energy drink before the party – take a shot of beet juice, it will give you energy and get your liver ready to do it’s work!!
  5. Vitamins B & C – alcohol depletes the body of vitamins and minerals – taking a multivitamin with B & C helps with alcohol metabolism & replenish the lost vitamins.
  6. Magnesium – alcohol consumption depletes magnesium, and low magnesium can bring on migraines among other symptoms (restless legs, eye twitches, muscle aches & pains).  Low magnesium levels even raise our risk of heart attack and stroke.  The majority of Americans are deficient in magnesium, so I recommend that most people take supplemental magnesium.  Magnesium is also responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body.  Too much magnesium can lead to loose stools, so start with a low dose initially.
  7. Skip the “house margarita,” it probably is made with cheap tequila and a premade mix. A lot of premade mixers contain preservatives, artificial colors, HFCS, and other chemicals that will just add to the toxic load on your liver.  Fructose was shown in multiple studies to boost alcohol metabolism by as much as 80%, so using fresh fruit juice and/or organic agave nectar in place of processed mixers to sweeten your drinks is a better choice than a premade mix with chemicals and preservatives.

Moderation – perhaps the most important step in avoiding a hangover is to practice moderation – make sure you do not drink on an empty stomach, limit yourself to no more than what your liver can process (about 1 drink per hour), and make sure to alternate with fresh filtered water to stay hydrated.

3 Natural Hangover Treatments:

Already overdid it? The old adage “hair of the dog” is just going to delay the inevitable pain and discomfort so…instead, try some of these alternative remedies.

  1. Drink artichoke, turmeric*, ginger & lemon tea (“Ultimate Detox” recipe below) – this is the ultimate detox drink – I love to make this in the Summer and drink it on ice even if I did not drink at all the night before – it is yummy!
    Turmeric Roots

    Turmeric root

    • turmeric* will help to reduce the pain & inflammation (puffy eyes, anyone?) – it is kind of like nature’s Advil.
    • ginger helps with stomach upset (natural Pepto)
    • artichoke is detoxifying to the liver, also helpful in lowering cholesterol!
    • lemon will help to support the liver detox and balance out your pH.
    • salt helps to replenish lost sodium
    • Add in a touch of agave – because the fructose will help to metabolize any of the alcohol that is left.  
  2. Put an electrolyte & vitamin C pack into your water – don’t have any fresh ginger and turmeric root laying around? Then grab one of those electrolyte vitamin packs – and stir it into a tall glass of water – it will help to replace the lost electrolytes and vitamins and help you feel better.
  3. Have a banana or some coconut water – both are excellent sources of potassium – which alcohol depletes. Bananas also soothe the stomach – and alcohol can damage the stomach lining and make you feel nauseated.

If you do decide to take a pain reliever the next day – avoid acetaminophen – because it can harm the liver if there is still alcohol in the system.

Ultimate Detox Tea Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • organic artichoke (can’t find an organic artichoke?  Skip it then – artichokes can be high in pesticides and the last thing you need is pesticide tea. This is delicious with or without the artichoke!)
  • one 2 inch piece of ginger root, peeled
  • one 1 inch piece of turmeric* root, peeled
  • 3 organic lemons
  • 1/8 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt (or Celtic sea salt, or Real Salt)
  • agave and/or stevia to taste

Directions:  Thoroughly rinse the artichoke – making sure to get dirt out between leaves.  Cut it lengthwise twice, so it is in 4 pieces. Peel the turmeric and the ginger, cut into a few slices (use a spoon to peel, that is the best way!).  Put the artichoke, ginger and turmeric root into a large pot filled with filtered water (about 8-10 cups) over high heat – once it comes to a rolling boil, turn it down to a simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.  Take it off the heat and allow it to cool in the pot for about 20-30 mins.  When it is cooled, strain it and put it into a glass jar. Squeeze in the juice from 3 lemons, add in the salt, and approx. 2 teaspoons of agave and 10 drops of stevia liquid (or your choice of sweetener – add more or less as you like, to taste).  Serve over ice, or room temperature if you prefer (I like it iced).

NOTE: As with all herbs and supplements, please consult your doctor if you are on medication before taking this tea.  Herbs can very powerful and may interfere with and interact with medications! 

*Contraindications: Turmeric should not be used by people with gallstones or bile obstruction. Though turmeric is often used by pregnant women, it is important to consult with a doctor before doing so as turmeric can be a uterine stimulant.

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.

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The Fine Art of Fermentation

April 2, 2013
IMG_2321

Fermentation is quickly becoming one of the hottest new trends in the food industry. Perhaps it is the health benefits, the complex and deep flavors, the energy boost fermented foods and drinks offer; or maybe it is that you feel like you have stepped into your own science lab when you are making them.

Watch this Fox 5 Segment about The Health Benefits of Fermentation

What is fermentation?

Fermentation is the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeast, or other micro-organisms; the process of fermentation converts carbohydrates into lactic acid.  The process of fermentation is a method of preserving foods that not only keeps the minerals and vitamins alive, it can even manufacture new ones!  Foods that have been fermented contain beneficial bacteria, enzymes, and vitamins that can improve our digestion, boost our immune systems, and provide energy.  Fermentation can turn regular foods into superfoods!

In contrast, much of the food found in today’s big grocery stores is basically dead.  When food is processed most of the natural minerals, fibers and vitamins are removed, so it is then “enriched” to put back some vitamins and minerals. Processed foods are often filled with other things our bodies do not need such as chemicals, preservatives, colorings, and additives.

The Health Benefits

The process of fermentation creates foods and drinks that are filled with bacteria, and sometimes yeasts.  Why would we want to eat foods that will introduce bacteria into our bodies?  The human body has more bacterial cells than human cells, with over 3 pounds of bacteria in the digestive system alone.  According to this article, “The human body should have 20 times more beneficial bacteria than cells to maintain a healthy intestinal tract and help fight illness and disease.” Read The Importance of Good Bacteria to learn more.

Fermenting also breaks food down into more easily digestible compounds. For example, some people who lack the ability to digest milk, are able to digest yogurt or kefir – because fermentation turns lactose into Lactobacillius, a type of lactic acid bacteria that assists in the digestion of milk and other foods.

Fermenting boosts some of the vitamin content of that food, creating new nutrients that were not there before.  For example, fermentation can produce vitamin K, which is important for calcium absorption and bone health; it also produces several different B vitamins, which provide energy and are important for manufacturing neurotransmitters.  Fermentation also preserves foods, and can remove some of the ‘anti nutrients.’  Grains, beans and soybeans all contain phytic acids, which block mineral absorption and interfere with digestion.  Fermentation removes phytic acid and breaks them down to improve digestion and absorption.

Rich Cultural History

Fermentation has been around for centuries, it was a natural way to preserve foods.  In 1850, scientist Louis Pasteur was the first to study fermentation. Many different cultures around the world use fermented foods.

  • The Korean Food Research Institute estimates that the average adult Korean eats more than a quarter pound of Kimchi daily!
  • Miso and Natto, both derived from fermented soybeans, are used in Japanese cuisine.
  • Indian cultures use fermented chutneys, and make dosa which are fermented pancakes.
  • Kombucha, a fermented tea, has been around for over 2,000 years.  In ancient China, kombucha was purportedly considered a remedy for immortality. Now it is one of the hottest health food trends around.
  • In the Tropics, cassava root is placed in holes in the ground and left to ferment until it is sweet and soft.
  • Fermented pickles and cabbage are traditions for Jewish cultures from Poland, Lithuania and Russia.
  • Kvass is popular in Russia, it is a drink made from fermented Rye bread.
  • Scandinavian’s eat a fermented fish, called Rakfisk.
  • Many cultures regularly eat yogurt, kefir, buttermilk and creme fraiche, which is generally made from fermented dairy products.

How Are Foods Fermented?

Almost any food can be fermented, and there are several methods for fermenting.  Some methods of fermentation require a starter culture that contains certain strains of bacteria and/or yeasts. Wild fermentation does not require a starter culture, generally it relies on salt and the exchange of air to ferment.  Kombucha is different, as it uses a mother culture called a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), that is sometimes referred to as a mushroom – although my son says it looks like a big flat jellyfish. Each time a new batch of kombucha is made, it produces a new SCOBY, called a baby.  To make kombucha, you brew tea (generally black), and add in sugar.  The sugar is not to sweeten the tea however, it is the food for the SCOBY!  So the longer the kombucha ferments, the less sugar that is left!  I like to also do a second ferment with a little fresh pressed ginger and mango juice, or fresh berries.  The second ferment is put into bottles and sealed and left to ferment about 3-5 more days.  The second ferment is what makes the kombucha bubbly. It creates pressure inside the bottle, so be careful opening it – I have experienced a geyser in my kitchen after letting the second ferment go a day too long (so now I open them outside usually!)!

What is the Difference Between Pickling and Fermentation?

Foods that are pickled are cured in vinegar, and must be heated, which destroys the live enzymes of the foods.  Whereas vinegar is created as a by-product of fermentation, and there is no heat applied (with some exceptions such as yogurt – because the milk is heated, and sourdough breads – which are baked).  Because you have to wait for the fermentation to happen, it takes longer than pickling.  So take pickles for example. Most pickles were made by combining salt, vinegar and cucumbers, and heating.  They also sometimes add preservatives, and a surprising number of them also contain artificial colors.  So those pickles do not contain any beneficial bacteria, and are not a health food.  But fermented pickles are extremely healthy, and one of the easiest things to make.

Good things come to those who wait….

In an era of fast food, eating on the go, and processed and packaged snacks; food that takes days (sometimes weeks) to prepare sounds like an oddity.  Fermented foods and beverages take time to create.  Who would want to make something that could not be enjoyed right away?  It turns out that a lot of people are becoming interested in fermentation.  I decided that not only is it good for my gut, immune system, and energy – it is also good for my character, because I have to practice patience while I wait for my kombucha and fermentations to mature.  They are worth the “wait” and their weight in gold.

For devotees that want to go the route of instant gratification – stores like Whole Foods have dedicated whole cases to kombucha and other fermented drinks, and also offer several different brands of raw sauerkraut and fermented cabbages.  But a growing number of people are getting into creating their own fermented vegetables, kimchi, kombucha, and yogurts at home.

Beware of Imposters

Not surprisingly, the processed food industry is trying to get in on all the hype. This recent article in the Wall Street Journal revealed that fermented “flavors” are starting to sneak into snack foods like chips. But trying to recreate these complex flavors in a lab is proving difficult, and even if they can get the flavors close – these processed foods offer none of the same benefit as real fermented foods.

Fermented Cabbage Slaw: Screen Shot 2013-04-27 at 4.54.42 PM

For the fermenting “newby”, fermented cabbage is a great place to start, because all you need is cabbage, a jar, some salt, and some time. If you want to make something a little more layered, add some herbs and spices, or try this recipe:

  • 1 large (or 2 small) head of cabbage (about 2 pounds), thinly sliced using mandoline
  • 1/2 onion, grated
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 apple, grated
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of grated celery root (optional)
  • 1 green pepper, thinly sliced on mandoline
  • 5 teaspoons of Celtic sea salt (to taste)
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano (or to taste)
  • 1/8 teaspoon mustard seeds (or to taste)

Prepare vegetables, and put into a large bowl.  Put in salt, and stir to combine.  Allow to sit a few minutes, and then begin to massage the salt into the veggies, squeezing and pressing as you go.  They will begin to release water.  Keep doing this for quite a while (about 5 minutes), until the veggies are significantly smaller in volume than before, and a considerable amount of liquid is released, the liquid is your “brine.”  Put the cabbage into a wide-mouthed jar, and firmly press down the veggies for a few minutes.  Keep pressing, you want the brine to be above the vegetables.  I like to place a couple of cabbage leaves on top, and then put one of the cabbage stems on it to help the veggies stay under the brine.  The vegetables should be at least 1 inch from the top of the jar to allow for expansion.  Put the top of the jar, cover with a cloth, and let ferment for 3-8 days (depending on how much fermentation you like).  Check on it periodically to make sure the veggies are under the brine.  You can also test it after a few days to see if it is how you like it.

Enjoy!!

The above recipe is a variation of Fermented Carolina Slaw from the book Real Food Fermentation. Written by Alex Lewin, it is a wonderful resource for anyone looking to get a good basic understanding of how to ferment foods and drinks, as well as a nice variety of recipes.

More information/sources:

  • Fermentation Supplies: http://www.culturesforhealth.com/
  • Recipes: http://www.culturedfoodlife.com/
  • http://foodandnutritionmagazine.com/The-History-and-Health-Benefits-of-Fermented-Food
  • http://www.chow.com/food-news/54958/that-coffees-rotten/
  • http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/03/18/mcbride-and-barringer-interview.aspx

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.

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