Healthy Lunch Ideas…

It’s that time of year when summer festivities are fewer and we regain a better schedule even if we aren’t the ones directly with kids or young adults heading back to school.  Remember that the nervous system and the brain need fuel and thrive in particular from whole foods, B vitamins and fat.  If you or your child is having difficulty with energy, mood or memory, be sure you’re checking these basics.
Nuts and Seeds
  • Avoid refined sugar, genetically modified grains, poor quality dairy products and other highly processed foods like poor quality lunch meat. The foods on this list will have an array of negative health effects from brain fog, fatigue and inflammation. Sugar causes inflammation and a weakened immune system; GMO grains create foreign proteins in your gut which stress the digestive system; healthy low-fat dairy is a myth- go full fat and support your brain!; processed meats have tons of chemicals you do not need or want (think carcinogens). To make sandwiches, replace your store bought bread with better ingredients like Ezekial bread or make a lettuce wrap instead! Replace your lunch meats with a healthy meat. Buy and cook your own meat from a market or local farm where animals are raised in healthy conditions. Cook your roast or breast and then slice it thin for your own, healthy lunch style meat. 
  • Eat foods for function! Foods that will help sharpen your focus include a side of celery, sliced peppers, or carrots. These great veggies provide your body with Luteolin which helps to reduce inflammation and improve memory. Add peanut butter (check that there is no added sugar or hydrogenated oils!) or hummus for dipping!
  • Don’t forget your B vitamins! Packing a side of steamed or raw broccoli and cauliflower, having eggs for breakfast (best way to start the day is with protein!), and packing a healthy meat can all provide a healthy source of Choline which can help brain development, boost cognitive function and improve learning and memory! Eggs, beef, and fish will give your brain a B12 boost and help with memory!
  • Blueberries are a good option for fun finger fruits. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals that improve learning, thinking and memory. If you or your child are a “hand-to-mouth snacker” – eating blueberries, one at a time, and thoroughly enjoying them may be a good side for your lunch! Add almonds for additional vitamin B and an enjoyable crunch!
  • Walnuts and pumpkin seeds provide an easily packed snack that is high in Omega 3’s which are good for the brain and memory.
  • Don’t forget your sleep! Nobody is going to function well, have clear memory, feel energized, or have a good mood if sleep isn’t planned for and implemented. Be sure that everyone in your household is getting the appropriate number of sleep hours each night. Infants are recommended to have 16 hours, Teenagers are recommended to have 9 hours, and adults, (persons above 25 years old) are recommended to have 7 to 8 hours.
  • Finally, remember that vitamin D is good for the brain and for stress. With Fall upon us, it may be time to ask Dr. Jena if you’re getting adequate vitamin D or if it needs to be supplemented throughout the winter. Vitamin D has also been linked to stronger immune systems which is always helpful with back to school!
Yours in health and happiness, 
Dr. Jena Hullman, DC

But I Want Ice Cream!

If your family is anything like mine, then they often ask for the less-than-healthy treats their friends are eating like…ice cream. While you are in the process of reducing white refined sugar, here is a non-dairy option made from full fat coconut milk, naturally sweetened with honey. As an occasional summer time treat, it’s a creamy alternative to the formaldehyde laced, chemically laden ice creams at the supermarket. Remember to eat sparingly, as even natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup aren’t meant to be consumed very often. Try substituting stevia or coconut nectar as they have a lower glycemic index.

(Both of these recipes were taken from the website: thenourishinggourmet.com. On this website, you will find other fun flavors as well.)

Vanilla Coconut Milk Ice Cream
2, 14 ounce cans of full fat coconut milk?1/3-1/2 cup of honey (stevia or coconut nectar, add slowly until sweet)?2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Combine all of the ingredients well. I usually have to use a whisk to get the honey to combine with the coconut milk. Make into ice cream according to the directions on your ice cream maker. “Ripen” in the freezer for a few hours and serve. Will last a week or two in the freezer. I like to use an alcohol based vanilla extract as it seems to help keep the ice cream from getting as hard.

Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream??

Honey or maple syrup used in this recipe also works. Just use a little less than you would for the coconut sugar.

2, 14 oz cans of coconut milk (not lite! I used the brand Thai Kitchen)
1/3 cup of coconut nectar, plus two tablespoons (use the more wet, pasty type found in a jar), or stevia drops to taste
2/3 cup of cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a dash of sea salt

Combine all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, and blend with an immersion blender (or you could use a regular blender or food processor, perhaps). Make according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Let ripen in the freezer for a couple of hours and enjoy.

November’s Featured Recipe: The Health-Boosting Flavor of Fall

The vibrant colors of Fall produce supply a healthy type of eye candy this time of year. But did you know that within those beautiful orange colors live a wealth of health, as well as a flavor that will please your palate while it warms your belly? And don’t forget the comfortable and cozy aromas that will fill your home in the process.  I am talking about pumpkins, the versatile food filled with many powerful healthy perks. Pumpkins have much more to offer than simply decorating our porches on Halloween.

Pumpkins get their orange color from carotenoids, and even white pumpkins have orange flesh.  Carotenoids are converted to Vitamin A within the body, and one cup of pumpkin contains over 200% of your RDA.  Vitamin A aids vision and strengthens and protects the lining of your eyes, as well as other mucous membranes…a favorite “entry point” for germs.

Did you know that pumpkins are actually a fruit? (And the seeds of this fruit are also worth trying out in a new recipe) Pumpkins are a fiber-rich, as well as low-calorie food, making them hugely successful in warding off hunger while practicing healthy eating habits or trying to lose weight.  Pumpkins are also a rich source of vitamin C, magnesium, zinc and potassium. The potassium found in pumpkins (even more per serving than in bananas) helps restore the body’s balance of electrolytes after a heavy workout, and keeps muscles functioning at their best.

Keep in mind that size matters when it comes time to cooking with pumpkins. Smaller varieties, such as pie and sugar pumpkins, star in the kitchen because of their dense, smooth, and sweet flesh.

Check out this recipe below, as well as many other recipes featuring these health boosting fruits, from www.countryliving.com, and consider adding some more pumpkin (pies aren’t everything, after all) to your Thanksgiving feast.

Pumpkin Chowder

Ingredients:

•    3 tablespoon(s) extra-virgin olive oil
•    2 leeks, trimmed of tough green tops and chopped
•    3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
•    2 medium bell peppers, chopped
•    2 1/4 pound(s) pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2- by 1-inch-think pieces
•    1 1/2 teaspoon(s) chopped fresh majoram
•    1/4 teaspoon(s) crushed red pepper
•    2 bay leaves
•    1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
•    1/4 teaspoon(s) freshly ground black pepper
•    1 1/4 cup(s) frozen corn ?
•    6 cup(s) vegetable broth

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leeks and cook until very soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in green peppers, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until peppers soften, about 8 more minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cook until pumpkin is tender, about 30 minutes.
* also excellent when you add chicken!

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