Pineapple Express

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PINEAPPLES // have improved immune function and reduce inflammation

The immune system protects our bodies against diseases, fights off harmful microorganisms and repairs damage.

Test tube studies have shown that bromelain strengthens the immune system and reduces inflammation.

Animal studies have also shown that bromelain may reduce the severity of inflammation, stimulate immune responses and have beneficial effects in asthma and allergic airway diseases.

Human studies have shown that intake of pineapple or a bromelain supplement, may shorten the duration of sinus infections, stimulate immune responses, prevent the formation of blood clots and reduce inflammation.


Last week I discussed a way to boost your immune system; passion fruit. This Monday’s ingredient gives me even more excitement…turns out pineapple not only can strengthen your immune system but also reduce inflammation. I will be honest, I never really obsessed over pineapples because I always chose the fruits rich in antioxidants first (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries) because I felt they offered me more benefit. Someone who gets recurring sinus infections and has a crappy immune system, I really should have been incorporating pineapples into my diet more frequently.

Over the last few years I have been avoiding antibiotics at all costs. I used to get sinus infections quarterly and my ENT handed out antibiotics and a steroid shot like candy! I trusted his judgement but after being on 4-6 antibiotics a year, I started to wonder what they were doing to my body…there is no way it’s good that someone be on them this often. After some research I found out that just one round of antibiotics can alter your good gut bacteria for up to one year. (Gut to brain health is a fairly new topic in the medical world but it truly is something to read up on…)

I started treating my sinus infections naturally and haven’t needed an antibiotic since. I truly was dependent on them because of the blinding pain the sinus infections caused but I just needed to be patient vs needing that quick fix. I now use a Neti-pot every morning, eat foods that aid in inflammation and load up on H20. It may take a little longer to get rid of them but it turns out I am able to get rid of them without medication. I even get them much less than I used to.

If it wasn’t for my EDS, I never would have started researching these fun food facts. Food truly can be medicinal and I can thank my mother for mentioning the bromelain that is in pineapples and how helpful it can be. For my next sinus infection I will definitely be loading up on pineapple!

Her fun fact inspired this delicious dish. I made it for breakfast but it can be made for any meal or snack. Enjoy!

Pineapple Express Yogurt Bowl

2 cups vanilla yogurt

1 passion fruit

1/2 cup pineapples

1/2 cup raspberries

3/4 cup granola

3 tablespoons chia seeds

  1. Combine all above ingredients in a large bowl
  2. Enjoy!

 

-C

Passion in a Glass

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PASSION FRUIT // boosts our immune system

Immunity is our body’s defense system against various pathogens like a virus, bacteria, toxins, etc. that make the body unhealthy and lead to disease and infections. Our immune system is responsible for our immunity.

It has an important role in identifying the threat and eliminating it from the system before it causes significant damage. Antioxidants are termed as “friends” of our immune system.

Vitamin A, C and phytonutrients like Xanthin and Beta Carotene are highly effective in optimizing  the immune function of our body. It results in higher resistance against common diseases like cold, flu and other infections.

Vitamin C is particularly known for alleviating cold  and cough;  and since it is a water-soluble vitamin, it’s loss from the body is at a higher rate. This loss can be replenished by fruits like passion fruits that are a rich source of Vitamin C.

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If there is anything I am good at, it’s getting sick. Starting in college it was always something; minor but reoccurring…quarterly sinus infections, strep, bronchitis, colds, migraines, whatever!. When I went into my Sophomore year, I realized I couldn’t blame it on good ole Miller Dorm’s “asbestos in the walls” — shout out to my wifey, Leslie and room 6-3-5!

Too many years later, I realized that what I put in my body could have a tremendous effect on my health. The transition started small but after more and more research, I fell into this delicious rabbit hole that has completely transformed how I view food. So, the question I ask myself as I continue to get sick with colds, fevers, migraines and other random diagnoses…is it worth it??

HELL YES.

I now don’t get as sick as often..fewer migraines, fewer sinus infections, fewer colds.

Less frequent = more living and I will take that any day! If you are sick of being sick, take a look at what you’re ingesting and go for it 100%

Now, on to today’s feature food…Passion Fruit. Sometimes, I will add it to my yogurt, smoothies or just eat it with a spoon, solo-style. This morning I was over it looking like Spring but feeling like Winter, so I decided to make this super tropical smoothie to pretend it wasn’t cold out. It is packed with cold-fighting ingredients that will build up your immune system but also keep your taste buds happy. Here you go!

The Tropical Crud Buster

1 Passion Fruit

1/2 cup Blueberries

1 cup Strawberries

1 cup Pineapples

1 cup Papayas

1 cup Kale

1 cup Almond Milk (unsweetened)

2 tsp Chia Seeds

1/2 inch cut Turmeric Root

1/2 inch cut Ginger Root

Handful of Goji Berries

Handful of Ice

(If the smoothie is too thick, add some water to get to a desired consistency)

Blend and Enjoy! Reminder – If you have extras, smoothies keep up to 24 hrs.

-C

Cauliflower Power

CAULIFLOWER // aids in cancer prevention.

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There are dozens of studies linking cauliflower-containing diets to cancer prevention, particular with respect to bladder, colon, breast, prostate and ovarian cancer.

This connection between cauliflower and cancer should not be surprising since cauliflower provides special nutrient support for several body systems that are closely connected with cancer development as well as cancer prevention.

Several research on this delicious veggie have revealed that it has compounds to resist cancer; it literally has the ability to eliminate cancer enzymes!

If that doesn’t make you want to race to the store, get you a head of cauliflower and devour it right then and there, I am not sure what else will…except for maybe for this recipe that is as easy as it gets! No joke.

Cilantro Lime Cauliflower “Rice”

(feeds 2-4)

1 Head of Cauliflower

2 Tablespoons Refined Coconut Oil

1 Teaspoon Celtic Sea Salt

Juice from half a Lime

Fistful of Cilantro

  1. Add one small head of cauliflower (cut in florets) to a food processor (or blender) and pulse until is reaches the consistency of rice
  2. Heat coconut oil in a saute pan until melted
  3. Add the cauliflower “rice”, the juice of 1/2 a lime and the salt
  4. Cook 3-5 minutes
  5. Top with a handful of cilantro
  6. ENJOY!

-C

Snap, Crackle, Pomegranate

POMEGRANATES // have impressive anti-inflammatory effects.

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Chronic Inflammation is among the leading drivers of many killer diseases. This includes heart disease, obesity, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Type 2 diabetes.

These anti-inflammatory properties are mediated by the antioxidant properties of the punicalagins.

Test tube studies have shown that it can reduce inflammatory activity in the digestive tract, as well as in breast cancer and colon cancer cells.

When it comes to the syndrome I have (EDS), an anti-inflammatory diet is the best way for me to be pain and symptom free from many different issues affecting my body — sinuses, gut, joints and heart to name a few. Unfortunately, SO MANY of the foods we ingest cause inflammation.

 Just because my condition benefits from an anti-inflammatory diet, doesn’t mean others couldn’t benefit from one, too. I personally have benefited from removing gluten from my diet which is why I am so passionate about what I eat. These benefits include improvements with my heart, thyroid, skin, migraines and chronic sinus issues.

Removing these common ingredients from our diets (gluten, dairy, red meat, etc) is tough to do consistently and should require proper discussion and follow up/blood work thru your doctor or licensed nutritionist. You must make sure you’re not denying your body proper vitamins and nutrients thru elimination.

I personally encourage this lifestyle for those who have the above diseases running in their families; obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and/or Alzheimer’s. Not only those diseases but also if you’re suffering from IBS, Celiac/gluten intolerance, thyroid issues and/or migraines. Choose a health issue that is ailing you and eat the foods that will counteract the symptoms. Food can act as powerful medicine.

Heads up — those who don’t realize yet (or care) that food can improve how you feel, will give you grief for this lifestyle. People can simply be jerks when it comes to something that’s not the norm but stand strong because you CAN change the way you feel.

If you could prevent these diseases from reducing your quality of life, why wouldn’t you? What if it could be as simple as a dietary lifestyle change? DO IT. Cast aside whatever is holding you back, and do know feeling better can be done effectively and affordably.

Alzheimer’s currently affects my grandfather and all I want to do is force my father and siblings on a gluten free, anti-inflammatory diet, but that is not up to me. It truly doesn’t hit most people that a dietary change is necessary until they are faced with something so life changing that they have no other choice. What breaks my heart is the group that still won’t change even when they’re facing something that could kill them. I am constantly reminded not many people care about nutrition like I do which is why “The Informal Grub” was born. I care deeply about my friends and family and just want them educated, happy and to live forever. Is that too much for a girl to ask??

I will end my rant and give you guys a super quick and easy snack packed with a powerful antioxidant which will aid with inflammation…Pomegranates! Great for on the go or just a quick snack to make at home.

Snap, Crackle, Pomegranate Rice Cakes

Rice cake

Almond Butter

1 Banana

Pomegranate Arils

Teaspoon of Chia Seeds

  1. Spread the almond butter on the rice cake
  2. Cut the banana into half inch slices and place on top of almond butter
  3. Sprinkle the pomegranate arils on top
  4. Finally, sprinkle the chia seeds on top
  5. ENJOY!

 

-C

 

 

Avoca-duhs

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AVOCADOS // contain a fat in them that allow you to absorb nutrients from plant foods.

When it comes to nutrients, the total amount of them is not the only thing that matters. We also need to be able to absorb them…move them from the digestive tract and into the body, where they can be used.

Some nutrients are “Fat Soluble,” meaning that they need to be combined with fat in order to be utilized. This includes: Vitamin A, D, E & K and antioxidants like caroteniods.

So, not only is an avocado extremely nutritious, it can dramatically increase the nutrient value of other plant foods that you are eating.

After learning this little factoid about avocados, I started adding them to every meal possible, especially if a green is a part of the dish. For example, smoothies with kale, omelets with arugula or simply just a salad that doesn’t have avocado already added. Honestly though, to me, it seems like a no brainer…who wouldn’t want to maximize their nutritional intake??

Now, this recipe I am about to share I cannot take credit for. This amazing salad was dreamed up by Miss Morgan Elizabeth Rollo. Not only is it addicting but since it contains avocados, you get to maximize your nutrient intake –win, win!

MO-RO’S KALE SALAD

(Feeds 2-4)

1 bunch of organic kale

2 avocados

2 lemons

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup feta or parm cheese

grapeseed oil

  1. With your hands, tear the kale off of it’s stems, place into bowl and continue to tear or chop into smaller pieces
  2. Once the kale is torn into pieces, begin to massage it. Think of this action as the “pre-digestion” stage –it will make it easier to digest. Your mouth and stomach with thank you.
  3. Lightly drizzle the kale  with grapeseed oil. You truly will only need around 4-5 cap fulls of grapeseed oil
  4. Toss that salad
  5. Place the pine nuts in a saute pan on low to medium heat. Keep your eyes on this process, as pine nuts can burn very easily if unattended. Once they are done, pour on top of the salad.
  6. Dice both avocados and place on top of the salad
  7. Add in the cheese
  8. Juice 1.5-2 lemons into the salad bowl and toss. If you are a big lemon fan like I am, squeeze both lemons.
  9. ENJOY!

If you want to add more protein to this salad, some chicken on top would be extremely easy.

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Vitamin (A)wesome

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SWEET POTATOES //  are one of the best sources of Vitamin A.

A Large sweet potato has more than 100% of your daily recommended intake according to the US Food and Drug Administration.

Vitamin A is an antioxidant powerhouse and is linked to anti-aging benefits, cancer prevention and the maintenance of good eye sight.

Sweet potatoes are also rich in B5, B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and due to their orange color–rich in carotenoids.

These bad boys are low in sodium, low-fat and have fewer calories than white potatoes. Unfortunately, they are higher in sugar that white potatoes.

Sweet potatoes are almost always incorporated into our nightly meals not only because they are delicious, but also for how easy they are to make. A lot of the time, I just throw a few in the oven when I get home from work to have as a simple side dish but lately I find myself adding as many protein and nutrient-rich additives to my foods as I can. Mainly because I have ADD and get annoyed by repetition but also because I find a way to incorporate as much protein as possible to every meal. It physically makes me feel better, gives me more energy and keeps me fuller longer. If you know me well, you know I am like a newborn baby and require a meal or snack every 3 hours. Now that I know I am not absorbing my meals fully, this makes much more sense.

When it comes to cooking in my home, I like to choose simple recipes…4-5 ingredients tops and nothing fancy. The stuffed sweet potatoes pictured above were quite the hit and I will be cooking them much more. What makes this side dish fun is that you can change the theme up in so many ways. The night I cooked this, we had a more “southwestern” theme. A few peeps have requested this recipe, so here you go!

SOUTHWESTERN STUFFED SWEET POTATOES

Feeds 2-4

  • Sweet potatoes (4)
  • 1/2 can of black beans
  • 1 ear of fresh corn
  • 1/2 cup shredded mexi-cheese
  • Avocado (1)
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
  2. Wrap the sweet potatoes in foil and place directly on the rack. The sweet potatoes will cook anywhere from 60-90 minutes depending on size. In the meantime, go hang on the couch, workout, get some work done, etc. etc.
  3. I prefer the freshest ingredients possible so that is why I chose an ear of corn vs canned corn. To save time, feel free to use canned corn. If you want deliciously crunchy and fresh corn niblets, fire up that grill and get it ready for your ear of corn. Once the grill is hot, place the corn (still wrapped in its husks) directly on the grill and cook until ready. Cook time ranges anywhere from 10-20 minutes so start grilling the corn when your sweet potatoes have around 20 minutes left in the oven.
  4. While the corn is on the grill, empty half of the canned black beans in a sauce pan, turn heat to low/medium and cook until corn is ready. Make sure you are stirring occasionally so that the beans don’t thicken up and dry out.
  5. Once the corn is fully cooked, place the corn vertically on a plate and with a serrated knife, cut downwards removing the delicious corn niblets. For this recipe I only used 3 out of the 4 sides in the corn. If you want more or less, that is up to you. Now, add the corn to a mixing bowl.
  6. At this time, your sweet potatoes should be done cooking. Remove them from the oven, unwrap them from the foil and let them cool down before you stuff them.
  7. Remove your beans from the stove, strain the excess juice and then add the beans to your mixing bowl of corn.
  8. While stirring the corn and beans together, slowly sprinkle in your desired amount of shredded cheese until melted into mixture.
  9. Open up your sweet potatoes and scoop out a small portion in the middle with a spoon, making room for your stuffing.
  10. Add the mixture to your sweet potatoes, stuffing them as full as you would like
  11. Top with sliced avocado
  12. Stuff your face and enjoy!

This was just a side dish to our meal that night, but if you add quinoa to it and a side salad, that is all some need for a meal. Not to mention, the leftovers make for a quick lunch the next day. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did! Happy Friday!

-C

 

 

Kale // YEAH!

Kale is one of the world’s best sources of Vitamin K. It is absolutely critical to blood clotting and does this by “activating” certain proteins and giving them the ability to bind calcium.
A single raw cup of kale contains almost 7 times the daily recommended amount. It also helps prevent heart disease and osteoporosis.” – Authority Nutrition

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When it comes to making smoothies you truly cannot go wrong. People ask me all the time what’s in my smoothies and I have a hard time with a specific answer. I literally cram in the blender whatever is in my fridge for the week.

“Everything in the Fridge” Rise + Shine Smoothie

-1-2 cups of kale

-3/4 cup of mangoes

-handful of carrots

-6 strawberries

-3 dates

-1 orange

-half of an avocado

-half of a banana

-2 teaspoons of chia seeds

-2 teaspoons of hemp seeds

-2 teaspoons of flax seed

-1 inch of fresh turmeric or ginger root

-Juice of half a lemon to cut the earthy flavor

If you make excess smoothie, store properly in the fridge and enjoy up to 24 hrs after making!

-C