What You Eat Can Impact Your Stress Level

In challenging times like these when stress and worry are peaking don’t forget to look at what is at the end of your fork for some help.  You can get a lot of support from the meals that you put together.

Let’s take a look at ideal inclusion and needed exclusions.

What You Eat Contributes To Your Stress Level

Food that contains a lot of sugar can cause a roller coaster ride for your blood sugar and this can cause you to feel jittery and to have mood swings.  Best to stay away from foods in this category.

Keeping in line with the thought of controlling blood sugar, complex carbohydrates, foods high in fiber, are an important inclusion in a diet focusing on stress busting.  Fiber slows down the speed that sugar enters into your blood stream, so it helps you to avoid those sudden spikes and drops in your blood sugar levels, balancing your mood and easing your stress.  Foods high in fiber include cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, celery, berries, leafy greens, beans and whole grains.

Fiber is also key for your gut microbiome health and because your brain and gut are connected a healthy, happy gut microbiome leads to a happier you.

And if we are talking about creating a happy gut, we can’t forget fermented foods that are a good source of probiotics. So, we are talking about things like kefir, kombucha, apple cider vinegar and kimchi.

Some studies have suggested that omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial for improving mood.  One possible reason is that omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain cell structure and function.  Another could be that they provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support.

Food sources of omega-3’s include wild caught salmon, sardines, flax seeds and chia seeds.

Magnesium is a go to supplement for improving sleep, quelling stress and calming nerves but why not get it from the food that you eat?  Foods naturally rich in magnesium are leafy greens, such as spinach and Swiss chard and dark chocolate.

Adaptogens

Finally, I want to mention that you can incorporate adaptogens to help you handle stress.

Adaptogens such as Ashwagandha and Holy Basil and some mushrooms including reishi and cordyceps are known to support the body’s ability to handle stress.

These can be easily included into your diet as teas or added into smoothies, salads and soups.

Here is one idea for you!

 

Stress Busting Hot Chocolate Recipe

Ingredients & Directions

Add to your blender and combine:

1 cup non-dairy milk (I love cashew for this one)

1 TBSP cacao powder

1 tsp maple syrup (or to taste)

1 tsp Ashwagandha powder

1 tsp Reishi mushroom powder

After you blend the ingredients add them to a pot and warm up. ⁠

Top with cinnamon if you like⁠

References

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/expert-answers/fish-oil-supplements/faq-20058143

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC538287/

 

Baked Salmon with Coconut Aminos Marinade

Let’s address the elephant in the post here shall we.  What are Coconut Aminos?

Coconut Aminos are a  yummy sauce made from coconut sap.   The sauce is dark, rich and salty. It is gluten free and is a great replacement for soy sauce.

Unbeknownst to many is the fact that, unless otherwise stated, soy sauce is made with wheat.  The wheat is roasted and fermented with the soy to achieve the familiar soy sauce taste that we know and love.

Coconut Aminos don’t offer a powerhouse of nutritional content but if you are trying to maintain a gluten free diet they are the way to go when you need an alternative to soy sauce in your recipes.

The salmon recipe below is a family favourite of ours.  It is not only simple, it is also a great way to introduce Coconut Aminos in to your diet if they are a new addition to your pantry.

Baked Salmon with Coconut Aminos Marinade

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • ½ kg salmon fillets
  • 1/3 cup real maple syrup
  • 4 Tbsp Coconut Aminos
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • ¼ tsp.ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200C
  2. Mix the maple syrup, Coconut Aminos, garlic and pepper together in a small bowl
  3. Place salmon fillets in to a dish, cover with the marinade and refrigerate 30 minutes – 1 hour
  4. Transfer salmon fillets to a baking dish lined with parchment paper, saving the marinade, and bake the salmon until it is cooked through, approximately 15 minutes
  5. Pour the saved marinade into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  6. Reduce to 1/4 cup.
  7. When the salmon is done place it on a serving tray and drizzle the glaze over top of it.

Serve immediately.

For simple sides that really complement the salmon try serving this dish with roasted asparagus and wild rice.

Enjoy!

 

Tips for Reading Nutrition Labels

Sticking to the perimeter of the grocery store is the ideal way to shop. But when the ideal meets the real and we find ourselves nose to label with packaging we need to be armed and ready.

Let’s face it, reading labels can be confusing.  But it is a necessary evil when you want to eat healthy.

With a few tips however you will be able extrapolate the important information that you need to make good decisions in the grocery aisles.

First off avoid the propaganda on the front of the product and go right to the good stuff on the back.  Companies can free wheel with what they say on the front of the packaging but there are real guidelines for what’s on the back.  For example a label may say that a food product is reduced in fat or reduced sodium. What this means is that the amount of fat or sodium has been reduced from the original product amount. It doesn’t mean, however, that the food is low in fat or sodium.

Here are My 3 Top Things to Look For on a Product Label

1. Check out the Ingredients

Check out the ingredient list.  Product ingredients are listed by quantity, from highest to lowest amount

2. Understand the serving size

It is really important that you understand that all of the nutrition information shown is based on serving size.

And don’t be deceived by this.  A single serving may not be what you think.  For instance, a serving size may be half a cup where as you might logically think it would be whole cup.

3. Know the Different Names for Sugar

We know by now the dangers of over consuming added sugars.  With this in mind, it is very important that you become aware of the fact that there are many, many different names for sugar on a food label.  Some of them end in –ose such as Sucrose, Maltose and Dextrose.  Others like Barley Malt, Turinado and Molasses do not.

Click here for my list of Different Names For Sugar

On the right side of a food label, you’ll see a column that lists the percent daily values (%DV). Percent daily values tell you how much of a the particular nutrient one serving will give you compared to how much you need for the entire day. It helps you gauge the percentage of a nutrient requirement met by one serving of the product.

Nutrition Facts Tables

Do you ever look at the Nutrition Facts tables? Do they help you decide which foods to buy or not? Do the numbers even make sense?

To be honest, I don’t think it’s that the most user-friendly or helpful tool. But it’s good to understand it since it’s here to stay.

Let me give you a super-quick crash course on reading the Nutrition Facts tables.

Then, try my delicious and super-easy snack recipe that’ll blow your pre-packaged granola bars out of the water.

How to Read the New Nutrition Facts Tables

The Nutrition Facts table is on the side of most packaged foods. It’s often found close to the ingredient listing.

The purpose of it is to help consumers make better nutrition decisions. When people can see the number of calories, carbs, sodium, etc. in food, they should be able to eat better, right?

Whether you like the Nutrition Facts table or not, let’s make sure you get the most out of it, since it’s here to stay!

Here’s my four-step crash course on reading the Nutrition Facts table.

Step 1: Serving Size

The absolute most important part of the Nutrition Facts table is to note the serving size. Manufacturers often strategically choose the serving size to make the rest of the table look good. Small serving = small calories/fat/carbs. So, it’s tricky.

All the information in the table rests on the amount chosen as the serving size. And, since every manufacturer chooses their own, it’s often difficult to compare two products.

In Canada, in the next few years (between 2017-2022), serving sizes will be more consistent between similar foods. This will make it easier to compare foods. The new labels will also have more realistic serving sizes to reflect the amount that people eat in one sitting, and not be artificially small.

Let’s use an example – plain, unsalted walnuts from Costco.

Right under the Nutrition Facts header is the serving size. That is a ¼ cup or 30 g. This means that all the numbers underneath it are based on this amount.

FUN EXPERIMENT: Try using a measuring cup to see exactly how much of a certain food equals one serving. You may be surprised at how small it is (imagine a ¼ cup of walnuts).

Step 2: % Daily Value

The % Daily Value (%DV) is based on the recommended daily amount of each nutrient the average adult needs. Ideally, you will get 100% DV for each nutrient every day. This is added up based on all of the foods and drinks you have throughout the day.

NOTE: Since children are smaller and have different nutritional needs if a type of food is intended solely for children under the age of 4, then those foods use a child’s average nutrition needs for the %DV.

The %DV is a guideline, not a rigid rule.

You don’t need to add all of your %DV up for everything you eat all day. Instead, think of anything 5% or less to be a little; and, anything 15% or more to be a lot.

NOTE: Not every nutrient has a %DV. You can see it’s missing for things like cholesterol, sugar, and protein. This is because there isn’t an agreed “official” %DV for that nutrient. The good news is that the new Nutrition Facts tables will include a %DV for sugar. Keep your eyes out for that.

Step 3: Middle of the table (e.g. Calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, carbohydrates, and protein)

Calories are pretty straight forward. Here, a ¼ cup (30 g) of walnuts has 200 calories.

Fat is bolded for a reason. That 19 g of fat (29% DV) is total fat. That includes the non-bolded items underneath it. Here, 19 g of total fat includes 1.5 g saturated fat, (19 g – 1.5 g = 17.5 g) unsaturated fat, and 0 g trans fat. (Yes, unsaturated fats including mono- and poly-unsaturated are not on the label, so you need to do a quick subtraction).

Cholesterol, sodium, and potassium are all measured in mg. Ideally, aim for around 100% of potassium and sodium each day. It’s easy to overdo sodium, especially if you grab pre-made, restaurant foods, or snacks. Keep an eye on this number if sodium can be a problem for you (e.g. if your doctor mentioned it, if you have high blood pressure or kidney problems, etc.).

Carbohydrate, like fat, is bolded because it is total carbohydrates. It includes the non-bolded items underneath it like fiber, sugar, and starch (not shown). Here, 30 g of walnuts contain 3 g of carbohydrates; that 3 g are all fiber. There is no sugar or starch. And as you can see, 3 g of fiber is 12% of your daily value for fiber.

Proteins, like calories, are pretty straight forward as well. Here, a ¼ cup (30 g) of walnuts contains 5 g of protein.

Step 4: Bottom of the table (e.g. vitamins & minerals)

The vitamins and minerals listed at the bottom of the table are also straightforward. The new labels will list potassium, calcium, and iron. Yes, potassium will drop from the middle of the table to the bottom, and both vitamins A & C will become optional.

Manufacturers can add other vitamins and minerals to the bottom of their Nutrition Facts table (this is optional). And you’ll notice that some foods contain a lot more vitamins and minerals than others do.

Conclusion

I hope this crash course in the Nutrition Facts table was helpful because it is important to be informed about what you are eating.

Proper nutrition is a key piece of cancer prevention so understanding what you choose to put in to your shopping cart is key.

Do you have questions about it?  If so, leave me a comment below.

 

Delicious and Super-Easy Walnut Snack Recipe

Serves 1

Ingredients:

8 walnut halves

4 dates, pitted

Instructions:

Make a “date sandwich” by squeezing each date between two walnut halves.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Try with pecans instead.

References:

http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/label-etiquetage/changes-modifications-eng.php

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/understanding-food-labels/percent-daily-value.html

http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/label-etiquetage/regulatory-guidance-directives-reglementaires/daily-values-valeurs-quotidiennes/guide-eng.php#p1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kale and bean salad

Black Bean, Kale & Quinoa Salad

Having good quality ingredients stocked in your kitchen pantry means always having a meal on hand.

I recently found myself somewhat stranded up north without a car or companion.

My husband and I arrived at our place in Collingwood late one evening with just a few things on hand.  We had planned to shop the following day but circumstances sent my husband home before we could get in to town to shop.  The only food that I had brought from home was the kale that I hadn’t used the week before and cream for my morning coffee.

So… I did a situationally imposed fast until dinnertime when my hunger got the best of me.  As a side note, fasts are something that you have to be mentally prepared for.

I wasn’t prepared for this one.

Moving on.

The recipe below is the product of the kale that I brought with me and things that I had on my pantry shelves.

As I continue to preach to all of my clients, a recipe is a template.  Kale could be spinach, black beans could be kidney beans and for a vegetarian meal tuna could just be eliminated from this recipe

That being said, this is a great tasting combo that I thoroughly enjoy!

Black Bean, Kale & Quinoa Salad

Serves 4

Dressing

¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Juice of ½ a lemon

1 tsp. honey

1 tsp. Italian Seasoning

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

Combine all ingredients together and mix well.

Salad

2 cups of kale, washed and chopped (hard spine removed)

1 can (398g) black beans, rinsed

1 can tuna (210g)**

1 cup cooked quinoa

½ cup chopped red onion

Directions

  1. Make dressing
  2. Put kale in bowl and add dressing. Massage the kale to break down its fiber. Let rest 5 minutes
  3. Add remaining ingredients and toss to coat with dressing
  4. Let the salad sit for 5-10 minutes and serve

**omit tuna for a vegetarian meal

Enjoy!

 

Basic Recipe for Energy Balls

No bake energy balls are the perfect little pick me up when your energy is low or your tummy is a grumblin’!⁣

And once you have the basics in place you are only limited by your own creativity⁣.

The basics of a good energy ball include:⁣

☑️Oats⁣

☑️Nut or seed butter⁣

☑️A sweetener like honey or maple syrup⁣

☑️Boosters and Tasters.

And this my friends, the Boosters and Tasters, is where you set your energy balls apart from the rest.  Boosters and tasters include hemp seeds, chia seeds, cacoa nibs, coconut, chocolate chips, dried fruit and flavourings such and vanilla and mint⁣.

So here is your basic recipe:

🔅1 cup rolled oats⁣

🔅1/2 cup nut butter⁣

🔅1/4 cup honey or maple syrup⁣

🔅 2 Tablespoons of a Booster like hemp⁣

Directions:

Blend the oats in your food processor until a flour consistency then add the rest of your basic ingredients and your choices of Tasters. Form in to balls, place on a cookie sheet and then place them into the freezer for 10 minutes to set their shape⁣.

**𝒥𝓊𝓈𝓉 𝒶 𝓆𝓊𝒾𝒸𝓀 𝓉𝒾𝓅.  𝒮𝑜𝓂𝑒𝓉𝒾𝓂𝑒𝓈 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝓂𝒶𝓎 𝓃𝑒𝑒𝒹 𝓉𝑜 𝒶𝒹𝒹 𝒶 𝓁𝒾𝓉𝓉𝓁𝑒 𝓌𝒶𝓉𝑒𝓇 𝓉𝑜 𝓂𝑜𝒾𝓈𝓉𝑒𝓃 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝓂𝒾𝓍𝓉𝓊𝓇𝑒 𝓉𝑜 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒸𝑜𝓃𝓈𝒾𝓈𝓉𝑒𝓃𝒸𝓎 𝓉𝒽𝒶𝓉 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝓌𝒶𝓃𝓉⁣

I keep a food journal when I make my energy balls to keep track of mixes that I like and those that I don’t.

Keep your energy balls sealed in a glass container or freeze them.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

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