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I usually pick up a roasted organic chicken from Nature’s Emporium once a week – it makes for a great healthy, easy, yummy weeknight meal.

We usually have it with a salad and sweet potato fries or roasted beets. Last night I tried something different with it, and created an awesome Thai Chicken Salad with a Peanut Dressing.

I adapted the recipe from Pinch of Yum, but simplified it by buying a pre-roasted chicken, and using the Eat Smart Sweet Kale blend from Costco vs. making my own slaw. I also made the dressing a touch healthier by using organic tamari vs. soy sauce and coconut sugar vs. refined sugar – enjoy!

Thai Chicken Salad with Healthy Peanut Dressing
Serves 4 or 2 with lefties

Ingredients
1 whole, roasted organic chicken, carved
4 cups Kale Superfood slaw
1 bell pepper, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 cup cilantro, diced
Dressing:
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp tamari
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp coconut palm sugar
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp fish sauce
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/8 cup water (or more for desired consistency)

Method

Carve chicken and set aside (refrigerate if not eating right away).

Chop bell pepper, avocado and cilantro, and whisk together ingredients for dressing.

Divide kale blend onto plates, and top with veggies, chicken and dressing. Toss to combine.

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Often at the end of a week I find myself with a list of recipes, health tips, or timesaving tricks that I want to share with my readers. Each one doesn’t necessarily warrant a blog post of its own, but I don’t want them to go to waste – below is a list of recipes & tips that I came across this week – enjoy!

Hours of Intense Exercise Isn’t Necessary Better
This is a common misconception when it comes to exercise; people think that unless they kill themselves for an hour in a high-energy spin class that they haven’t done anything good for their bodies. Not true! I took a detox course at CSNN back in October where I heard this, and recently attended a detox seminar hosted by Jennifer Pike, RHN where this little tidbit came up again. Dr. Natasha Turner has referenced this fact many times as well on The Marilyn Denis show. I’ve heard this so many times in the past few months that I decided it’s time to share.

The fact is, when you exercise intensely for an hour or more you’re actually raising your body’s cortisol levels (cortisol is a stress hormone). This is counterintuitive to what you’re trying to accomplish at the gym because the higher the cortisol levels; the more your body hangs on to fat; specifically that stubborn belly fat.

What is the best kind of exercise? 20 to 30 minutes of moderate interval training where you’re doing weight-bearing exercises that causes your heart rate to rise & fall throughout your workout (Nike Training Club app is perfect for this!). This type of workout should happen 3x per week, and the other two days can include a 30-minute cardio workout (running, biking, swimming or fast-paced walking) and a yoga class.

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Coconut Rice or Quinoa
Bored of plain old brown rice or quinoa? Next time you make it, try swapping out 1 cup of water for coconut milk and adding 1 tsp. of coconut palm sugar = AMAZING.

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My New Fave Snack
Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars. Kind of like the old school Fig Newton, but better for you. They’re made with whole-wheat flour, and come in a variety of flavors like blueberry, raspberry and apple cinnamon. With two in a pack you can decide if you just need one or if you’re hungry enough for both. They make for a great snack or a healthy choice dessert. Available at Costco or health food stores.

Nutritional Yeast
If you’ve recently decided to cut meat & dairy out of your diet, and are feeling really fatigued it could be that you’re suffering from a B12 deficiency (meat & dairy are main sources of B12). Try incorporating nutritional yeast fortified with B12 into your diet. It tastes similar to cheese, is a good source of B12, and is a complete protein. You can incorporate it into pasta sauces, sprinkle on salads or add to soups & stews. And, for all you new moms or moms-to-be out there, nutritional yeast can help your milk come in and improve your milk flow! Here’s a great healthy “Mac n’ Cheese” recipe that incorporates nutritional yeast.

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Think Dirty
Think Dirty is a free app that will quickly help you determine the safety of the beauty products that you use everyday. Unfortunately, most of the standard beauty products out there are full of harmful chemicals and parabens, which can raise estrogen levels in our bodies and lead to hormonal imbalance & cancer. Use this app to scan the products in your bathroom right now! 

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Creamy Coconut Peanut Butter Spread
On a recent trip to Costco I noticed they’re now selling a new coconut peanut butter spread by Earth Balance. I was super excited as these are some of my favorite flavors, and are even better together. Of course, I looked at the label and was disappointed to see that there is added sugar, oil and salt. I quickly got over it when I discovered that I could just make my own: pop a slice of sprouted bread in the toaster, slather on some organic extra virgin coconut oil, slather on some natural peanut butter, and voila – your own homemade creamy coconut peanut butter spread! I also added some sliced banana, a small handful of pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of honey. You’re welcome.

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Avoid a Sticky Situation
Speaking of honey, I often incorporate it into homemade sauces & dressings, and have discovered a helpful little tip to avoid an annoying, sticky situation. Before you fill your tbsp. or tsp. with honey, swirl a little bit of extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil on the spoon. This prevents the honey from sticking to your spoon, and it will slide right off into your bowl.

Have you come across any tips or recipes this week that you want to share?

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Don’t Be Duped by “Pepsi Next”

by Lauren on March 28, 2014

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During my pregnancy I’ve had to get creative with my non-alcoholic beverage choices. I was never a big drinker before getting pregnant, but when you’re out or have people over and everyone is enjoying a drink it’s nice to have something other than water.

There are some good non-alcoholic beers out there (PC Blonde & Becks) that I’ve been enjoying with a splash of OJ or cranberry juice. Costco has a good organic fruity bubbly drink that was nice over the holidays. Sometimes I treat myself to a ginger ale, and use fruit or citrus to flavor my club soda or water.

Being in tune with non-alcoholic beverages, I was intrigued when I heard that Pepsi’s new product: Pepsi Next contains no aspartame and includes stevia. I checked out their website, and was disappointed with what I found out.

Pepsi Next still contains high fructose corn syrup, refined sugar (26 grams or 5.2 teaspoons of sugar!), sucralose and caffeine. Canada’s version contains 30% less sugar than regular Pepsi, and has some stevia thrown in there for good measure. Because it contains less sugar, it also boasts fewer calories: 100 calories vs. 150 for regular Pepsi. In my opinion, Pepsi Next is not a healthy choice – I was duped.

The most frustrating part of my research was when I reached out to Pepsi and asked them for the other ingredients in Pepsi Next (other than stevia and less sugar). They responded within a couple days, and referred me to their website, which of course doesn’t list the ingredients; just some vague nutritional information. They probably know that just because their new product doesn’t contain aspartame it’s still not good for you!

If you’re really a pop lover I would try Zevia – a soda company I discovered while grocery shopping at Nature’s Emporium the other day. They have 15 flavors like Cola, Cherry Cola, Orange, Lemon Lime, and Ginger Ale to name a few. All of their flavors are 0 calories and contain no artificial sweeteners.

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The only questionable ingredient for me is the “caramel color” that is present is most of their flavors. I emailed a customer service rep from the company asking them if their caramel color contains 4-methylimidazol (a substance that is said to be carcinogenic in certain amounts).

Here was their response:

Hi Lauren,

Your question is a good one!  With a plethora of information on this topic, we understand your concern.

What is Caramel Color?  Caramel Color is the world’s most widely used food colorant.  It is used to impart color in numerous foods and beverages including breads, cereals, soy sauce, seasonings, and colas, among others.  Caramel Color is produced through the carefully controlled heat treatment of food grade carbohydrate.

What is 4-MeI?  4-methylimidazole (aka: 4-MeI) is a substance that is naturally produced by caramelizing, broiling, grilling, cooking and roasting foods of all kinds – often right in consumers’ own kitchens and grills.  You have likely heard of 4-MeI due to the State of California’s widely reported Prop-65 initiative, which has placed labeling requirements on products that exceed certain limits of this substance.   California is the only state in the U.S. to regulate 4-Mel.  The current 4-MeI labeling threshold in California is based on a “No Significant Risk Level” or “NSRL” of 29 micrograms per day.

What’s in Zevia?  Zevia uses a Type IV, low-4-MeI Caramel Color for 8 of our 15 flavors; the other flavors contain no Caramel Color.  This Caramel Color allows us to meet the stringent Prop-65 requirements in California – while still meeting the taste and aesthetic expectations of our consumers.  Specifically, these eight flavors contain less than 50% of Prop-65’s NSRL, making us fully compliant with the regulation.

Is California ‘right’?   Caramel color has been studied widely in the past 35 years and has always been deemed safe.  The FDA disagrees with California’s position, having granted caramel colors GRAS status after rigorous safety studies; and a scientific opinion from the highly-cautious European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published in 2011 that, relating to caramel colors, “The Panel concludes overall that the exposure estimates for … 4-MEI …  are not of concern”.   The California decision was made with little meaningful public hearing and limited scientific review.  Many in the scientific community find fault in California’s process after the great body of evidence suggests that caramel colors are indeed safe.

Zevia’s Commitment.  We want to ensure you that Zevia is continuously evaluating alternatives to further reduce and possibly eliminate 4-MeI levels in our products.   All ingredients in Zevia products are GRAS affirmed (Generally Recognized as Safe) according to FDA regulations, and safe for use in foods and beverages.

And just in case it helps, the following Zevia flavors available in Canada do not contain any Caramel Color -

  • Lemon Lime Twist

  • Orange

  • Black Cherry

  • Grape

We promise that we will continue to stay at the forefront of ingredient innovation and sourcing.  As consumers ourselves, we care deeply about the safety of our products for our family and yours.

Sincerely,
Jae-Min Mandala
Customer Relations Manager 

ZEVIA®
Zero Calorie Soda 

Phone: 310.202.7000 x 221
Toll Free: 855-469-3842 (855.GO.ZEVIA)
Fax: 310.427.7185

I was satisfied with Jae-Min’s answer, and the next time I feel like a pop I’ll grab a Zevia.

What do you think of Zevia’s response? Would you try Zevia? Were you duped by Pepsi Next’s campaign as well?

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Healthy Food First, Than Supplements

by Lauren on March 23, 2014

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On Wednesday evening I attended a hormone seminar at Nature’s Emporium. The speaker was a woman named Lorna Vanderhaeghe. She’s a women’s health expert, and has been researching nutritional medicine for over 30 years. She started a company called Health Solutions Inc. and has developed her own line of supplements.

I’m really interested in the area of hormonal imbalance and was excited to attend the seminar and hear what she had to say. I love being around other nutritionists to expand my knowledge and get inspired.

Unfortunately, I left the seminar feeling disappointed, frustrated and uninspired. She spent the entire 2-hour seminar promoting and pushing her line of supplements.

I went through her supplements handout, and they seem legitimate, but in my opinion, supplements should not be the first course of action. What about healthy food first? Supplements should do exactly that: supplement a healthy diet.

I took a detox course through my school (The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition) in October with a focus on hormonal imbalance and you can absolutely treat hormonal issues with food. Eating is such a huge and enjoyable part of life. Doesn’t she want to help people love food again by promoting healthful foods that are not only delicious, but that can also make them feel better?

At one point she actually said: “people don’t want to change the way they eat,” so they should just take supplements.

Of course people don’t want to change. Change is difficult, uncomfortable and requires effort, but I don’t think there’s one success story out there where someone has accomplished something major without change – weight loss, quitting smoking, starting an exercise program – all aspects of healthy living that require change and effort. Nothing worth having comes easily.

Our job as nutritionists is to help people identify imbalances, educate them about healthy food, and help them make changes to their diet and lifestyle to help them feel good and accomplish their health goals. Sometimes supplements are a necessary part of the protocol, but they should never be the only solution.

Plus, it’s expensive! If you listened to Lorna, you’d not only be buying and eating your regular, unhealthy food, but you’d be spending tons of money on supplements every month to try and re-balance the negative affects that your bad food is having on your body. Sounds like a vicious and expensive cycle to me.

One of the most upsetting things was that the room was full of women who came to get help. The majority of women were in their 50s, and desperate to learn how to deal with issues like: menopause symptoms, weight gain, insomnia, fatigue, skin issues, and low energy. They were hanging on her every word; she had a captive audience, and in my opinion it was a wasted opportunity.  She would present a slide that outlined a list of horrible symptoms, and than follow-up with the solution: one of her supplements.

I heard one woman behind me saying that she was already on 6 different supplements from Lorna’s line. I wondered why she was there. Were they not helping?

I’m sure Lorna knows what foods to eat to help rebalance hormones, but she didn’t mention one of them during the entire 2 hours. The message she left with this captive audience of women was: the way to deal with all of these issues & symptoms is with expensive supplements, which were conveniently located outside of the seminar room for purchase on their way out.

I’m attending another seminar on Thursday hosted by holistic nutritionist Jennifer Pike that talks about ways to detox for spring. I’m hoping to leave feeling more inspired after this one.

What’s your opinion on this issue? Eat unhealthy & buy expensive supplements to feel better? Or would you rather learn how to make healthy food choices, and supplement if absolutely necessary?

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Do Beets Intimidate You?

March 18, 2014

Beets are one of my favorite foods. If there’s a beet salad on a menu, I’ll order it – roast beets, arugula and goat cheese…mmm. But I realized the other day that I’ve never attempted to make my own beet salad. For some reason I’ve always been a little intimidated by the beet. Long roots, […]

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Eat Like You’re Pregnant Everyday

March 14, 2014

Throughout my pregnancy many people have asked me if I’ve changed my diet. Sorry to disappoint, but than a few crazy cravings at the beginning (Honey Nut Cheerios and popsicles) and no alcohol or unpasteurized foods, my diet has stayed the same. Pregnant or not, we should always incorporate a variety of healthy, whole foods […]

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Do You Have a Meal Planning Routine?

March 6, 2014

Sorry for the break in posts, but I’ve been busy! I have 2 months to go in my pregnancy, and have been busy getting everything ready for the arrival of our little one. When people are busy I often find the first thing to go out the window is healthy eating. The fact is, if […]

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Miso Cod with Kale Soba Noodles

February 24, 2014

We all know that fish is something we should be incorporating into our diet on a regular basis, but I often hear that people have a hard time including fish into their weekly meals. Perhaps we like to play it safe and stick to tilapia and salmon, and we need some variety. It could be […]

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Choose High Quality Treats

February 19, 2014

There are certain foods that I consider treats and that should be consumed in moderation. Things like chips, popcorn, red meat and dessert. That being said, just because I consider them a treat doesn’t mean I don’t care about the quality. In fact, because I’m consuming these foods in moderation, I’m willing to spend a […]

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Healthy Homemade Salad Dressing

February 17, 2014

Photo Source I always encourage my clients to make their own salad dressing vs. buying store-bought. Most pre-packaged, store-bought dressings are full of preservatives, sugar, salt and unhealthy oils. It’s easy to make your own, and so much better for you because you can use awesome, healthy ingredients. This Apple Cider Honey Dijon Vinaigrette is […]

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