Roasted Broccoli & Mushrooms With Cumin Tofu Scramble

Ah, New York in January. It's COLD. It's rainy. It's dark. Most people find it easier to eat healthfully when the sun is shining and clothes are sparse, but, as soon as the winter comes, habits change. It doesn't take any effort to order from Seamless, throw on an extra-large sweater & call it a day. For the most part, healthy eating should be a year-long, daily occurrence. Here is a simple dinner idea that involves minimal labor and will also provide numerous benefits for your mind and body. 

Broccoli has impressive levels of folic acid, which among other functions, is required for mood regulation. Studies have shown a correlation between higher intakes of folate and lower levels of depression. White mushrooms are full of Vitamin D which we are all lacking, as these days, the sun sets around 4:45 pm. Tofu is a low calorie, gluten-free protein option that also provides iron and calcium. Cumin has been shown to stimulate pancreatic enzymes aiding in digestion. So... this little dinner is easily digested, and will also make you happy & strong. Any takers? 

 

  • Cut broccoli heads off of stems
  • Use olive oil to spray medium baking pan
  • Add broccoli and white button mushrooms 
  • Coat in olive oil & pepper
  • Roast at 450° for 50 minutes, mixing occasionally
  • I prefer the broccoli when it's nice and brown, so this may take up to one hour depending on your oven power

 

  • Crumble 'light tofu extra firm' using your hands
  • Mix with olive oil and cumin
  • Using olive oil spray, coat a small pan
  • Cook on medium heat for about 25-30 minutes, or until nicely browned

 

  • Mix both in a bowl
  • Eat (obviously)

 

#Foodporn: Why Food Is So Closely Tied To Our Memories

"According to the Harvard Press, the part of the brain called the hippocampus not only forms, but also keeps our memories safe. The hippocampus also happens to regulate the hormones involved in appetite, digestion and overall eating rituals and behaviors."

Read more about the connection between food & memories at http://elitedaily.com/life/culture/food-memories/866136/

Butternut Squash Soup

The days are becoming shorter with the temperature steadily dropping. Let's look on the bright side, it's soup season. Soup is a great way to warm up and fill up. Try to avoid cream based soups, as you will soon find that this will pack on the pounds. Instead, choose vegetable based options that provide fiber for satiety, along with tons of nutrients to keep your immune system strong.

Butternut Squash Soup has always been a favorite of mine. I used to frequently pick up a bowl from Josie's Kitchen on the Upper West Side. Since I moved to Brooklyn, it is a little difficult to access my beloved soup. Instead, I decided to make my own.  A member of the gourd family, butternut squash is a power food that is low in fat, high in fiber, packed with potassium, vitamin c, vitamin b6 and folate.  It hits the spot for those winter cravings for comfort foods, as it is naturally sweet. This specific recipe uses apples, giving it an extra kick of goodness. 

Ingredients

4 pounds whole butternut squash (~2 medium), halved lengthwise & seeds removed

2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick)

2 medium Granny Smith apples

1/2 medium yellow onion

8 fresh sage leaves

2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth

2 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper,

 

Directions

1. Heat the oven to 425°F

2. Place the squash pieces cut-side up on aluminum foil on a baking sheet

3. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and brush all of it over the tops and insides of the squash halves.  Season with salt and pepper. Roast until knife tender, about 50 minutes to 1 hour.

4. While the squash is roasting; peel, core, and cut the apple into medium dice

5. Cut the onion into medium dice

6. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a large saucepan

7.  Add the apple & onion

8. Add sage, season with salt and pepper

9. Cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

10.  When the squash is ready, set the baking sheet on a wire rack until the squash is cool 

11. Using a large spoon, scoop the flesh into the saucepan, along with the sautéed apples and onions; discard the skins.

12. Add the broth, water, and measured salt and pepper, stir to combine, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

13. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large pieces of squash (about 15 minutes)

14. Remove the pan from the heat  

15. Using a blender, purée the soup in batches until smooth

16. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed

17. Yum in the tum

 

 

Matcha

 My almond milk matchaccino from Matcha Bar NYC

My almond milk matchaccino from Matcha Bar NYC

Coffee has some serious competition. The latest fad for a caffeine fix comes in the form of the finely-ground powdered green tea, matcha. Though this tea has become "trendy", with NYC's first matcha bar opening in the heart of Williamsburg, it has been consumed for thousands of years. Traditionally found in Japanese coffee shops, the flavor has been described as umami, earthy & grassy. 

Benefits include:

Sustained Energy

After drinking coffee, the caffeine is released immediately, causing an increase in adrenaline, insulin and glucose. We feel a high feeling, followed by a c-r-a-s-h.  On the other hand, the caffeine in matcha is steadily released over 3 to 6 hours, allowing for sustained, more even-keeled energy. Diabetics will benefit from matcha as it increases insulin production without stressing the adrenals or increasing blood glucose.

Burnin' Up

Matcha has been found to increase metabolism and burn fat FOUR times faster than average. Obviously, drinking powdered tea alone won't get you into your "skinny day" pants but combined with a balanced diet and regular exercise, weight loss can be accelerated.

Zen

Buddhist monks used matcha when meditating in order to simultaneously feel alert and relaxed. Even though matcha will stimulate, it also induces an overall calmness, thanks to the amino acid L-Theanine.  For those of you who feel anxious after a cup of coffee, matcha is for you. 

My Favorite Hormones

L-Theanine will also increase production of Dopamine & Serotonin. We all know by now that these hormones will boost mood, promote better concentration and improve long term memory. Studies have also shown that L-Theanine will lower blood pressure, reduce the incidence of PMS symptoms and combat everyday stress. 

EGCG

The amount of antioxidants found in matcha is equivalent to ten mugs of regular green tea. EGCG is a powerful antioxidant found in both green & white tea. It has been shown to decrease incidence of cancer by protecting the cells from DNA damage/free radicals. It also causes apoptosis ("death") of cancer cells, especially in breast, prostate and endometrial cancer.

Detox Me

Chlorophyll gives matcha it's green color. It also promotes detoxification, removing heavy metals and toxins from the body.  

Notes:

  • Dairy will inhibit matcha's effects due to lactose. Instead, use hemp, flax, soy or almond milk when having cappuccinos or lattes.
  • If you can't get to Brooklyn's matcha bar, you can order your own matcha and add to smoothies at home.
  • Try:  1 scoop of vegetable protein powder, 1/2 banana, 1 tsp of coconut oil, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 2 tsp of matcha.
  • Try: 2 frozen bananas, 1 cup of almond milk, 3 teaspoons of matcha and a few handfuls of ice. You can then add a DROP of honey or agave if you crave a sweeter taste but the bananas should be efficient enough. 

 

 

 

 

Macro Plate

Lately, all I want to eat is Macro Plates.  I'm on a kick, and if you know me, when I like something, I really like something. 

The term Macrobiotic comes from the Greek language, "macro" means great and "bios" means life.  The application of the Macrobiotic lifestyle and diet has an emphasis on learning to live within the natural order of life which IS the constant changing nature of it.  

 My latest plates. 

My latest plates. 

The staple of the diet, The Macro Plate comes to us from Japan cuisine and is a perfect balance of foods that are both yin & yang.  Yin foods are expansive, moist, cooling , while yang foods are contractive, warming and dry. It is believed that the balance of the two are the basis for maintaing good health.  

The plate is made up of large portions of:

  • complex carbohydrates (quinoa, millet, brown rice, soba noodles)
  • beans
  • green & root vegetables
  • sea vegetables
  • vegetable protein (usually tofu)

I recommend eating in this style to promote satiety AND weight maintenance. After eating a plate, I definitely feel full, but, still like I can walk a few miles. I never look to snack after eating a plate, as I usually would do after eating different meals. 

You can easily make a macro plate for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  I recommend Souen in downtown Manhattan, Bliss/Bliss Grand in Williamsburg, Blossom in Chelsea, Candle Cafe on the Upper East/West Side, Peace Foods Cafe on the Upper West Side and Sun in Bloom in Park Slope for amazing, satisfying plates. 

 

The Autumnal Equinox Side Dishes

Last night, I traveled up to Westchester for my older sister & her husband's first Rosh Hashanah in their new house. Today, we began the day with hot power yoga, where the instructor mentioned that it's now the Autumnal Equinox. The word equinox is derived from latin, meaning "equal night."  We are experiencing 12 hours of daylight, 12 hours of darkness, making it the most even time of year. Some people feel very grounded during this time, yet most feel slightly unstable, since it's also a time of change. In order to promote stasis, it's especially important during this time of year to eat a healthy diet and treat yourself with extra compassion. 

Though we prepared traditional Jewish dishes, we added a healthy spin to the holiday with spicy quinoa and roasted root vegetables for a well-balanced meal. These foods stabilize our own inner roots, which are undergoing evolution during the change of season. Quinoa, a gluten-free pseudo grain, is a complete protein that will stabilize blood sugar. Root vegetables grow underground, absorbing nutrients directly from the soil. They offer an earthy, sweet flavor providing complex carbohydrates for long-standing energy. The combination of the two promote gut harmony. Both dishes take minimal effort, but lead to maximum flavor and satiety. 

Spicy Lemon Quinoa Ingredients

  • 2 cups quinoa 
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Coarse salt

Directions

1.  Heat up olive oil on low light

2. Add pine nuts, toast until lightly browned

3. Place pine nuts on the side

4. Zest the skin of a lemon

5. In separate sauce pan, combine quinoa with water

6. Bring to a boil, then cover & reduce to simmer

7. Cook until water is completely absorbed

8.  Transfer quinoa into medium sized bowl

9. Add pine nuts, lemon zest, cumin, parsley, cayenne

10. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice

11. Season with salt & pepper

 

Roasted Root Vegetables Ingredients

  • 8 carrots - cut into thirds
  • 3 turnips 
  • 4 cups of brussels sprouts - cut ends off, and into halves
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt, pepper
  • Braggs Organic Sprinkle

Directions

1. Preheat oven 350°

2. Place cut up vegetables into roasting pan

3. Coat the vegetables with olive oil. Note: you don't want the vegetables too oily but also not too dry (just riiiight)

4. Salt, pepper, Braggs to taste 

5. Roast for an hour and a half

 

Nutrition & Depression

After discussing the connection between nutrition and mental health with Shira Burstein, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, I've asked her to help explain how nutrition can help with treating depression and other mental disorders. Following Shira's post, I will recommend some diet changes for the upcoming winter months.

- Allison

 

I was not sure whether it was my recent e-mail blasts for “Fall Fashion Finds” or the obvious fading of my summer tan that caused me to start feeling that impending gloom of our everlasting NYC winter months. Even with all the weekends I spent on the beach, I knew that according to science I would have had to stand completely naked for one hour, every day  (the sun hitting both front and back) in order to absorb the needed levels of vitamin D to prevent me from being deficient.  Although that tactic might seem exciting to some, I opt to take a more conservative route by including vitamin D supplements and other important foods in my daily diet.

As a psychotherapist, I am constantly curious as to how the mind and body are connected as one. In particular how our diet impacts our moods both positively and negatively. You might ask why I bring up vitamin D when I’m groaning over images of women wearing cashmere cowl necks and knee high boots. Some of the signs of vitamin D deficiency include general malaise, lack of motivation, lethargy and even symptoms that mimic clinical depressions, anxiety and other mental disorders.  In a world where psychotropic drugs are easily accessible and the inclinations for ‘quick fixes’ become paramount, many of us can be mistaking nutrient or physiological deficiencies for chronic and serious mental illness.

Whenever you start feeling depressed, anxious or upset, typically our routines begin to unravel. Although everyone uses their own methods of self-soothing, those that use food often consume items that only exacerbate symptoms of depression and anxiety further. The relationship between nutrient deficiencies and issues such as depression then become a revolving door. If you are feeling depressed and anxious, you then see behaviors increase such as staying indoors, not exercising and having unhealthy eating patterns.

The question is then, how do we know what foods we need to consume to promote better mental and physical health, and what exactly are we trying to achieve by what we decide to chomp on? Healthy brain functioning is highly correlated with proper balance of neurotransmitters and ultimately the goal is to consume foods that produce neurotransmitters such as dopamine, tryptophan, GABA and the ‘feel good’ serotonin, which is a chemical that many antidepressants for example act on.

Our brain is the most complex organ in our body, which includes receptors for things such as vitamin D. Research shows that this directly helps us regulate emotion. Often enough, clients are treated with psychotropic drugs right off the bat in an attempt to manipulate our brain neurotransmitter functioning without considering lifestyle choices.  When I start to feel the ‘winter blues’ I first ask myself how I can address these symptoms holistically, adding in healthy food as the nuts and bolts to naturally improve my mood and affect.  

The mentality of ‘ruling out’ medical causes first, can easily be addressed with simply swapping out your morning chocolate muffin and caffeinated double espresso, causing a greater shift then you could have even imagined.  To make note, there are certain medical conditions that medication may be needed, please check with your licensed medical provider.

Allison will explain how to make changes in your diet that ultimately will improve moods such as sadness, low energy, anxiety and even low-grade depressive symptoms. 

- Shira Burstein, LCSW

www.shirabursteintherapy.com 

 

Nutrition For Depression

Vitamin D

As Shira mentioned, the number one source for Vitamin D is pure sunshine. Vitamin D is actually a hormone, converted by the body from cholesterol. If you aren't getting enough sunlight, you can quickly become Vitamin D deficient. Unfortunately, most of us don't spend our lives lounging by the Mediterranean Sea, therefore we have to rely on our diet. With winter quickly approaching, it's important to start increasing our intake before the days get shorter. Strong food sources of Vitamin D are cheese, sardines, salmon, sole, flounder, egg yolks, mushrooms, herring, liver, tuna and cod. In order to maximize absorption, D should be increased along with calcium and omega 3s. A simple blood test can test levels of Vitamin D. If extremely deficient, check with a medical doctor to verify the need for supplementation--but it's recommended to take 2000 to 5000 IU of Vitamin D3 per week.

Calcium

It's not only found in milk! Calcium can be found in collard greens, spinach, kale, okra, soybeans, white beans, rainbow trout and yogurt. Many Vitamin D supplements already include Calcium.

The Omega 3s

ALA, EPA, DHA are essential fatty acids; meaning our body does not produce them and they must be consumed via diet.  ALA is found in plants, while EPA & DHA are found in fish & meat sources. The problem with American livestock is that most are fed corn, causing an increase in omega 6s causing a pro-inflammatory response, which is associated with depression and acts of violence. When purchasing meat, make sure it is labeled 'grass fed.' Pescatarian sources of EPA & DHA are anchovies, herring, sardines, mackerel, trout & salmon.  Notice most of these sources also are full of Vitamin D.  Sources of ALA are flax seed, walnuts, butternuts, beechnuts, chia seed, dried soybeans, oats, seaweed, pecans and almonds. 

Serotonin

Serotonin will not only promote overall well being, but it's also been linked to decreasing the urge to overeat. The amino acid, tryptophan, is needed to produce this "feel-good hormone." Tryptophan is one of eight essential amino acids and must be consumed via the diet. Sources of tryptophan include turkey, chicken, venison, halibut, cod, snapper, scallops, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, mung beans, kidney beans, soy beans, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, oats, eggs, apples, avocados, figs, peaches and berries. 

Folic Acid

Folic acid (folate) will aid in maintaining normal levels of serotonin in the brain, preventing depression and reducing lethargy. Sources of folic acid include all dark leafy greens, asparagus, citrus fruits, lentils, pinto beans, black beans, navy beans, avocado, okra, brussel sprouts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds and beets.

Lifestyle Change

Proper nutrition should accompany adequate sleep & regular exercise. It's important to note that lifestyle changes must be implemented in order to see long lasting results in mood and health.  Poor sleep patterns are associated with depression and other mood disorders. You should set up a sleep schedule and TRY to stick with it as much as possible. Exercise will increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a “natural” antidepressant for your brain. Personally, I have seen the amazing benefits that exercise has in creating a balanced mood--as does Shira--we were often side by side in the fitness center at Clark University.

Avoid

  • High sugar foods will cause a quick rush, leading to a "crash" and energy dip that can cause a depressive mood. A 30 minute "high" off of that Kit Kat Bar isn't really worth it, is it?
  • Caffeine in moderation may increase mood, but excessive caffeine can interfere with sleep.
  •  Both large portions & saturated fat take longer to digest, diverting the blood from the brain and muscles, causing a "fog-like" feeling leading to lethargy.  Try to practice portion control and to decrease saturated fat intake, if not only for depression, but for long-term health.

 

 

Saturday Morning Pancakes

I just got back from a run and am craving some pancakes.  A few weeks ago, one of my clients gave me this idea and I decided that today was the day to test them out. These are a great, high protein, low-calorie version of a favorite breakfast of many. They have a slightly nutty flavor, thanks to the almond milk. 

 

Ingredients:

1/4 cup almond milk

1 scoop "Designs for health" pure pea protein powder

3 egg whites

1 teaspoon of flax powder

 

Directions:

1. Mix in Nutribullet or blender

2. Make pancakes!

 

Notes:

  • You can add whatever toppings you want—but they taste amazing plain! Honest.

 

Black Eyed Pea Dip With Roasted Broccoli

I'm a long time fan of hummus, but I wanted to change things up with black eyed pea dip. According to Southern folklore, black eyed peas represent wealth and prosperity. Who doesn't want some of that? Instead of dipping with typical crackers or bread, roasted broccoli is a healthier, less carb ridden accompaniment. 

I decided to use fresh beans, soaking them for 6 hours, then boiling for 40 minutes. You can either use fresh or canned. This recipe was inspired by my new Nutribullet--but a blender or food processor will work just as well. 

Ingredients for dip: 

1 1/2 cups cooked black-eyed peas (or 1 15-ounce canned black-eyed peas) 

1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large clove garlic chopped 

1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon

ground pepper

salt as needed (depending on preference)


Directions: 

1. Put aside a few black-eyed peas for garnish 

2. Place peas in bowl

3. Add parsley, lemon juice, oil, garlic, tarragon & pepper.

4. Process until smooth 

5. Taste to add seasonings or salt

6. Transfer to bowl & garnish with the extra peas


Notes:

  • I had to add about 1/2 cup of water to the dip while in the Nutribullet for a smoother texture
  • IT IS SO GOOD! I'm mmmm'ing all over the place. 


 

Ingredients for Roasted Broccoli: 

1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces) broccoli florets

4 tablespoons olive oil 

3 minced garlic cloves

juice from half of lemon

black pepper

 

Directions: 

1 Preheat the oven to 450°

2. In a bowl toss the broccoli florets, minced garlic, olive oil & lemon juice 

3. Place the broccoli florets on a greased baking sheet

4. Roast for 35 minutes or until nicely browned 

 

 

Cashew Fudge

My love for nut butter runs deep. Though I enjoy all kinds, starting at a young age eating peanut butter directly out of the jar, my absolute favorite is cashew butter. It might be the best taste that I've ever experienced. If all of this nutty praise doesn't make you want to try some, how does some cashew fudge sound? It's a guilt-free, sugar-free dessert.

I can't believe I discovered this fudge so late in my nut butter game, but here it goes... 

Ingredients: 

3/4 cup creamy cashew butter

1 cup coconut oil 

1 teaspoon maca powder 

sprinkling of cinnamon 

 Brands that I use & recommend

Brands that I use & recommend

 

Directions:

1. Mix cashew butter and coconut oil in bowl

(you may want to heat up coconut oil if it's in solid form)

2. Add maca powder, mix well

3. Pour mixture into glass baking pan

4. Sprinkle cinnamon 

5. Freeze until solid, about 45 minutes

6. Cut into squares

 

Notes:

  • You can  substitute the cashew butter with peanut, almond or sunflower seed butter
  • Maca powder is optional, but it's a superfood full of vitamin C.  It is also said to act as an aphrodisiac and can boost fertility
  • Coconut flakes, cacao powder, crumbled raw nuts or cinnamon can be sprinkled on top
  • Fudge will melt at room temperature, store in freezer

It's Tofu Time!

I'm on a tofu kick!  Made from soybeans, tofu is a high protein food that can be cooked in a variety of different ways. My older sister, Marisa, let me borrow her cookbook from People's Food Market, a vegetarian co-op located in the Ocean Beach area of San Diego, CA.  The following recipe is a rendition of People's "Italian Style Nuggets," a satisfying and flavorful way to make tofu. 

 

Ingredients:

2 packages of firm tofu

1/4th cup of olive oil

2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon basil

1 teaspoon oregano

1/4th teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven for 375°

2. Cube tofu and place in 10 x 12 inch baking dish

3. Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a separate bowl

4. Pour the ingredients over the tofu

5. Mix well

6. Bake for 60 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes

(for crispier nuggets, bake for about an hour & a half)

 

 

Check back soon for more tofu recipes! 

Lil' Baked Eggs

I've never met an egg I didn't like; scrambled, fried, poached, frittata, omelette, hard-boiled. Here is a simple recipe for baked eggs. Store these in the fridge and heat one up for a high protein, filling snack. 


1. Pre heat oven 350°

2. Spray muffin tin with olive oil spray

3. Crack eggs directly into tin

4. Sprinkle any spices & herbs

5. Bake for 15-20 minutes

6. Eat 

(yum) 

 

 

How To Decrease Stress With Diet

 chamomile daisies.

chamomile daisies.

While I was lying in savasana during yoga this morning, my instructor pointed out that we never just sit still. We are constantly 'on' with plenty of distractions. It's difficult to relax and stay calm with the many stressors in our daily lives. Even if you're lying on the couch, you likely have your phone near by; buzzing, beeping, and singing. Every time you check a news source, there's fighting, death, crime, plane crashes, EBOLA OUTBREAKS. My instructor's words got me thinking about how to eat to decrease stress & promote calmness. I did some research, and would like to share, as everyone can benefit from some additional tranquility and peace. 

 

Chamomile tea

Drinking this tiny, daisy tea will directly decrease anxiety. Think of it as a natural and less addictive Xanax. It not only calms your nerves but also promotes sleep--something we all could use a little more of. 

 

Oatmeal

This hot cereal is my favorite way to start the day. It offers a boost of serotonin, thanks to the complex carbohydrate content. Serotonin creates a soothing & content feeling.  

 

Oysters

You either love 'em or hate 'em. If you are a fan, you're in luck, as these shellfish are a good source of the trace mineral Zinc, found to act as a calming neurotransmitter. Zinc has also been shown to decrease depression symptoms.  Don't go overboard with supplements; 50 mg per day is the upper limit. If you want to pass on oysters, try cashews--another great source of Zinc. 

 

Magnesium supplement

This mineral will aid in relaxing your physical body while easing anxiety.  Make sure you buy the glycinate or chelate form at the recommended dose of 200 mg per day. Soybeans, spinach, swiss chard, and salmon all have a naturally high content of Magnesium, so eat up! 

 

Salmon & other fatty fishes

Salmon not only provides magnesium but also plenty of omega 3s that decrease aggression and the incidence of other stress related illnesses such as depression and anxiety.  Recent research has also shown that eating 3 oz of fatty fish twice per week will decrease PMS in women with severe symptoms. 

 

Oranges

Vitamin C will directly decrease cortisol, the stress hormone responsible for increased blood pressure, abdominal fat, and depression. Please, pass me that orange! 

 

Dark chocolate

You now have a new excuse to eat chocolate, "I'm feeling stressed." Similar to oranges, a moderate amount of chocolate will decrease cortisol leading to a dip in blood pressure, leading to an overall feeling of calmness. This sweet snack also provides flavonoids, another stress reducer. 

  

Crunchy foods

This is one that surprised me, but new research shows that the act of munching on foods such as raw carrots will decrease stress. Who knew? 

Nutrition For Healthy Skin

Sometimes, annoying skin break-outs aren't left behind in our teenage years; they literally pop up now and then. This is due to a combination of our hormones, a possible gut bacteria imbalance, toxicity in our organs, and current diet.  If you're lucky enough to never experience a breakout, you are likely still concerned with developing wrinkles and the overall aging process.  

NYC-based Physician Assistant specializing in Dermatology Nicole Lyons, "I'm a firm believer in moderation and holding yourself accountable. I cannot say 'don't eat sugar or avoid dairy' because each person has their own trigger. My advice has always been to find what works for you & stick with it.  I stress getting adequate sleep, limiting alcohol, NO smoking, and avoiding the sun during peak hours."

Along with Nicole's advice, here is a nutritious list to follow and stick with for vibrant, clear skin:

 

Probiotics & Digest Gold

Probiotics help maintain the "good" bacteria in our gut. A lack of "good" bacteria in our gut can not only lead to acne but also many long term health problems. Yogurt does provide a fair amount but if you find your skin acting up frequently, try a probiotic supplement along with Digest Gold, an enzyme to help with gut absorption. Both probiotics and Digest Gold can be found at any health supplement store. 

 

Dandelion

My father refers to this root as "Dandy."  Dandy will help detoxify our liver & kidneys.  If you find the taste of dandelion too bitter as a salad, you can sauté with garlic & oil, try the supplement form, or combine with sweet fruits in a cold pressed juice.

 

Berries

Everyone loves berries!  Here is another reason: they have a detoxifying effect due to the high levels of anti-oxidants, which protect us from the over-production of free radicals (that cause damage to our DNA). Add berries to smoothies, yogurt and salads for maximum benefits.

 

Fennel

This root vegetable aids in digestion and flushes out toxins. Fennel has also been found to strengthen hair. If the licorice taste isn't for you, try roasting with spices or brew a fennel tea. 

 

Garlic

This herb contains allicin, a naturally occurring chemical that kills harmful bacteria & viruses that cause acne. 

 

Sweet potato

The stress hormone cortisol is directly correlated with breakouts. To keep cortisol at bay, blood sugar should be stabilized. Sweet potatoes contain complex carbohydrates & fiber which help avoid blood sugar fluctuations. This delicious potato also contains beta-carotene which improves circulation of oxygen to our skin. 

 

Stinging Nettle Tea

Nettles exhibit an anti-inflammatory effect that will aid in calming the skin, known to improve both eczema and acne. They contain anti-oxidants similar to our berry friends.

 

Vitamin C

Vitamin C deficiency was first discovered by sailors during the 15th century while on long sea voyages where fresh fruit wasn't available. Vitamin C is necessary for collagen, the structural support for your skin.  As we age, collagen and our skin's elasticity declines and as a result we develop wrinkles and sometimes even sagging. Popular sources of C are citrus fruits, watermelon, papaya, strawberry, cantaloupe, kiwi, pineapple. The South American berry supplement camu camu is often sold in pill or powder form--due to it's sour taste--but it is the highest known source of vitamin C.  

 

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are not only a great source for Vitamin C, but also contain lycopene which stimulates skin circulation.

 

Avocados

Everywhere I look I see "avocado toasts."  This trendy fruit is full of vitamins C & E.  The vitamin E content will boost the skin's vitality.  Vitamin E also prevents UV damage from the sun. You can also try topical avocado oil to stimulate collagen growth. 

 

Water

This is an obvious one but possibly the most important on this list.  We need water for life, moisture & to flush out toxins.  End of story. 

Beloved Breakfast

photo.PNG

No, no, no. Regardless of what the New York Times article says, breakfast isn't overrated! While scanning the headlines, my eyes immediately widened when I saw the word BREAKFAST. I could talk for hours upon hours on how much I love the first meal of the day. It is what gets me out of bed.  

 

Commonly referred to as the most important meal of the day, here's a list of reasons not to listen to the Times and to scramble that egg, butter that toast and crunch that granola: 

 

"Break the fast" 

The way your body responds to not eating overnight is by lowering your metabolic rate.  When you eat in the morning, your metabolism is revved up again. If you choose not to eat breakfast, your body will continue to function with a lower metabolic rate which over time can lead to weight gain. Your body will burn more calories by digesting protein than it will for carbs & fat so make sure your breakfast includes a good source - egg whites, beans, yogurt or nuts.

 

Shiny Happy People

Studies have shown that eating breakfast will increase pulse rate & overall mood. Common breakfast foods that have specifically been shown to improve mood are: eggs, greek yogurt, almond butter, peanut butter, bananas & berries.

 

Remember Me

Our primary brain fuel is glucose that is found in carbohydrates. When the body isn't getting the right amount of carbohydrates it has to rely on stored fuels. Stored glucose is often used up overnight so the body then will have to turn fat & protein into usable fuel. This process will simultaneously slow down other important processes including problem solving ability, concentration & memory.  Foods that are directly correlated with cognitive function are blueberries, avocados, walnuts, cashews, flax seed, sunflower seeds, whole grains & oatmeal.

 

Energy

One of the biggest complaints I hear when counseling patients is that he/she is tired.  I get it, life is tiring.  By deliberately skipping breakfast you are increasing your risk of feeling lethargic.  Make sure your breakfast has a fiber source as a high fiber diet is found to increase energy.  You can also add chia or flax seeds to smoothies & cereals to naturally increase fiber content. 

 

 

See NY Times Article: 

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/21/is-breakfast-overrated/?src=me