Shine Bright like an Almond

Shine Bright like an Almond

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ALMONDS // loaded with antioxidants

Antioxidants help to protect against oxidative stress, which can damage molecules in cells and contribute to aging and diseases like cancer.

The powerful antioxidants in almonds are largely concentrated in the brown layer of the skin. For this reason, blanched almonds (skin removed) are not the best choice from a health perspective.

A clinical trial of 60 male smokers found that 84 grams (3oz) of almonds per day reduced oxidative stress biomarkers by 23-24% over a 4-week period. These findings support those of another study, which found that eating almonds with main meals reduce some markers of oxidative damage.


Whenever I start my mornings, they are typically rushed because I love staying in bed until the very last second. Because of this cozy routine, I typically don’t have time to create something that keeps me full for long.

This chia seed fruit parfait literally takes 5 minutes to put together and is nutrition packed! It takes some night-time prep but I assure that too only takes 2 minutes and it can makes multiple parfaits. Side note, if chia seeds aren’t in your mix, please add them! They are a great source of fiber, omega 3, protein and they keep you fuller longer! Also, for those who suffer from IBS or indigestion, this recipe includes mint!

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Chia Pudding Parfait

1/4 cup chia seeds

1 cup almond milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp local honey

1/4 cup granola

1/4 cup almonds

1/4 cup yogurt (almond, coconut, etc)

1/4 cup raspberries & strawberries diced

5 mint leaves diced

  1. Mix in an air tight jar the chia seeds, almond milk, local honey and vanilla extract. Make sure you stir the contents for up to a minute to ensure no clumping. Place in refrigerator overnight or for a few hours if being made for an afternoon snack.
  2. In a glass or jar, layer the remaining ingredients into layers of your choosing.
  3. The layer order I used: Chia Seeds, fruit, almonds, yogurt, mint, granola, fruit.
  4. Garnish with granola, almonds, fruit and mint.
  5. Enjoy!

DAYS IMMUNE SYSTEM HEALTHY

47

-C

Nothing Beets This

Nothing Beets This

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BEETS // boost your energy level

Beets contain a significant amount of carbohydrates that provides fuel for energy and prolonged sports activities.

These are the natural building blocks of energy metabolism and beets provide them without any of the negative side effects of many other carbohydrate-heavy foods.

When the body has a sufficient amount of carbohydrates, it is easy to fuel all of the necessary bodily functions as well, including the important metabolic reactions that keep your organ systems functioning efficiently.


A few years ago I had the pleasure of working with my fabulous sis and that was the time I was introduced to our dear friend, beets. She loved beets so much then and still does to this day. She would always try to get me to eat them and I just couldn’t get into. They tasted very “earthy’ to me.

Sadly, it wasn’t until a month or so ago, I learned to appreciate beets. I found an awesome bottled juice by Vim + Vigor and decided to research the most striking ingredient; beets.

What struck me is not only are beets a HEALTHY carbohydrate, but it would properly fuel the necessary body systems. I am currently training for the MS150 and with my newly formed nutritional lifestyle, I really must fuel properly, never cutting my body short of any ingredient it may need to perform well. The last thing I want to do is bodily harm; the current goal is the heal it. Being counterproductive thru poorly fueled exercise would not only really bum me out but it would harm me.

A fun fact for me when it comes to the MS150:

Cyclists who drank a single large serving (16oz) of beetroot juice were able to ride up to 20% longer, and let’s be honest, I am going to need as much of an advantage as possible!

The reason for this boost in energy is because beets are high in natural nitrates which are converted to nitric oxide in the body…nitric oxide increases the efficiency of the mitochondria AKA your energy powerhouse.

Next time you’re thinking about enduring a lengthy workout, down some beetroot juice, add it to your yogurt, smoothie, etc…it’s really good!

If hearing me say smoothie made your ears perk, here you go!

“Nothing Beets This” Smoothie

1 small beet, skinned and sliced

10 strawberries

4 leaves of kale

1 banana

1 handful of goji berries

5+ mint leaves

1/2 cup almond milk

1 cup water

handful of ice

ENJOY!

If you are feeling generous, please donate to my MS150 page HERE!

Side note, I have decided to track down here how many days I have been free from a cold or sinus infection AKA how many days I have been IMMUNE SYSTEM HEALTHY!!

46 DAYS

-C

Pineapple Express

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

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

Snap, Crackle, Pomegranate

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

 

 

Kale // YEAH!

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

Turmeric // You’re Golden

Turmeric // You’re Golden

“Turmeric is extremely effective due to curcumin.  It is the best aid in treating many anti-inflammatory diseases.  Psoriasis, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Cancer, Rheumatoid Arthritis and many more.” -Authority Nutrition

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Turmeric entered my life about 6 months ago after coming across a few articles on Facebook, the most trusted science source we know of, obviously.

For those who aren’t very familiar yet here is a blurb from WebMD, another extremely trusted source…

“Turmeric is a plant. You are probably familiar with turmeric as the main spice in curry. It has a warm, bitter taste and is frequently used to flavor or color curry powders, mustards, butters, and cheeses. But the root of turmeric is also used widely to make medicine.

Turmeric is used for arthritis, heartburn (dyspepsia), stomach pain, diarrhea, intestinal gas, stomachbloating, loss of appetite, jaundice, liver problems and gallbladder disorders.

It is also used for headaches, bronchitis, colds, lung infections, fibromyalgia, leprosy, fever, menstrual problems, and cancer. Other uses include depression, Alzheimer’s disease, water retention, worms, and kidney problems.

Some people apply turmeric to the skin for pain, ringworm, bruising, leech bites, eye infections, inflammatory skin conditions, soreness inside of the mouth, and infected wounds.”

When I was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) I decided early on I did not want to mask its symptoms with medications.  I wanted to face the pains and struggles face on, free of pain killers, injections and medications. The only medication I take currently is for my POTS, Midodrine 5mg, 3x daily. Without that medication I would not be a functioning adult in society. How I survived that long without it, I will never know. Shout out to my Geneticist.

We live in a world now where we can be our own doctors and cheerleaders through proper research. I am fortunate enough to work as a Pharmaceutical rep in the Medical Center and have access to wonderful knowledge and doctors day, too but I still found myself digging deeper than they were, especially when it came to a nutritional + holistic approach. Doctors have dedicated their lives to medication vs food and I respect that but know food can heal me just as well if not better, in some instances. I say that due to my Hypothyroidism being now stable and my MVP “dormant” at the moment since going Gluten Free. I now don’t take Synthroid; cutting gluten in my medicine, yo.

After reading a few articles from trusted sources I decided to start ingesting some form of Turmeric everyday to combat the inflammation that occurs in my body and joints.

A study has recently showed that Turmeric is as effective as Ibuprofen.

If you are down to introducing turmeric into your life, here are a few ways to get your daily dose.

Turmeric + Almond Milk

-1 teaspoon of turmeric powder

-6oz of your choice of milk (I use Almond Milk)

-stir well

-chug baby chug

Hot Tea +Fresh Turmeric

-boil one cup of desired tea (Ginger, Lemon, Mint, etc)

-thinly slice 1-inch of fresh turmeric root

-add turmeric and let steep

-swallow those bad boys on your final sip

Morning Smoothie + Turmeric

-1 to 2 cups of kale

-1 banana

-handful of strawberries

-1/2 cup blueberries

-1 cup almond milk

-handful of ice cubes

-2 teaspoons of chia seeds

-1 inch piece of fresh turmeric root

Smoothies can make more than one cup so seal your extras properly and save it for the next day. Freshly blended veggies//fruit stay ingestible for 24-hours. Feel free to add the juice from half of a fresh lemon to cut the bite of the kale.

Enjoy!

-C