11/29/18

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is gaining popularity and popping up in wellness discussions more and more frequently.  But, what IS intermittent fasting? Is it healthy? Is it right for you? Here’s a quick run-down to help you decide.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is not a diet.  Rather, it’s a lifestyle approach and method of timing your meals and eating to occur during a specific time period throughout the day with the goal of fasting to give your digestive system a rest during the remaining hours of the day.  Though there are many variations and everyone has their own take, typically one might start with the 16:8 method - a 16 hour fast, leaving an 8 hour window for meals.  Though 16 hours may sound like a daunting stretch, most people plan this around their sleeping schedule; with an early dinner and delayed breakfast, it can be quite doable.

The crucial thing to remember is that intermittent fasting is not calorie-restrictive.  You are not intended to cut out meals and be starving!  Instead, you should be shifting your eating for the day to a smaller, limited window of time.  Giving your digestive system this fasting break provides a lot of benefits like speeding up your metabolism, decreasing hunger by lowering leptin (the ‘hunger’ hormone), lowering and managing blood sugar and insulin levels, lowering cancer risk and oxidative stress to your cells, improving cognitive function and protecting memory and lowering inflammation.  Intermittent fasting also very often results in weight loss and fat-burning, while preserving muscle mass.

How Do I Start?

The easiest way to begin intermittent fasting is starting with an early dinner and delaying your breakfast (which often translates into skipping breakfast and starting the day with a larger lunch).  Hopefully most people are getting close to 8 hours of sleep each night so you’ll be sleeping during much of your fast. Dinner at 7, nothing before bed and dive in with your first meal at 11am the next day!  The morning stretch can be the hardest part to get used to, but plentiful water, tea and even black coffee can make it a little easier.

How Do I Know If It’s Right For Me?

Almost anyone can give intermittent fasting a try.  Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not fast, nor is it a good idea for anyone with fertility issues, adrenal or thyroid issues or Type 1 diabetes.  As with any significant lifestyle change, it’s always a good idea to clear it with your doctor first.

Tips For Success

To help keep away hunger and make sure you’re getting in your nutrients each day, focus on eating  healthy, whole foods. Keeping processed carbs to a minimum and stocking up on fresh veggies, healthy fats and lean proteins will avoid crashes in blood sugar and will help keep you feeling full and satisfied with plenty of energy and focus.

Also, listen to your body. The beauty of intermittent fasting is that there are no hard and fast rules.  If you find that you’re getting too hungry late in the day or the morning hours are unbearable, perhaps a 16-hour fast isn’t for you.  Try a 12-hour fast instead. Or, try fasting every other day. Everyone is different and has individual needs – it’s important to do what’s right for you and your body.

XOXO,

Koren

Koren Bradshaw, MS, CLC is a clinical nutritionist and certified lactation counselor passionate about functional nutrition and lifestyle education.

11/27/18

Bieler’s Broth: A Healing, Restorative Soup Recipe

I am not much on detox diets or cleanses after the holidays even though they are all the rage. If you are like me, you may overdue it even more between Thanksgiving and New Years knowing you will “cleanse” it all off starting January 1.

A 3 day cleanse between Thanksgiving and Christmas can help with decreasing extra weight gain. My recommendation would be a 3 day Bieler’s broth cleanse which is alkalizing for your body. There are many options available but the one I will be doing soon is as follows:

4 medium zucchini (coarsely chopped)

3 cups string beans (remove the ends)

2 sticks celery (coarsely chopped)

1 bunch parsley or cilantro (or you can do a mix)

4 cups water

Bring the water to a boil in a pot then place the zucchini, beans and celery in the water and let simmer for about 10 minutes until slightly softened (the color will be a brilliant green).

Spoon mixture into a blender (you’ll have to do several batches) and add the parsley or cilantro uncooked and liquefy. Mix it all back together and place in the refrigerator. You can warm up or eat cold, I think it tastes like a green gazpacho.

It is important for the vegetables to be organic and the water from a good source. Eat as much as you want of this and only this for 3 days. Also drink a lot of extra water. Getting in a sauna or taking Epsom salt baths during this time is also helpful for your short cleanse.

Dr. Bieler felt that this combination of vegetables was ideal for restoring acid-alkaline and sodium-potassium balance to organs and glands, especially the sodium-loving adrenal glands which suffer under stress. The broth is also supportive for liver function — recall that the liver is our detoxifying organ. Bieler’s broth is highly recommended for those under stress or suffering from stress-related conditions.

Eat as much as you want of this and only this for 3 days. For some this might not seem like enough food for your busy schedule, if so try replacing this as a snack. Also drink a lot of extra water. Getting in a sauna or taking Epsom salt baths during this time is also helpful for your short cleanse.

Make sure if you are on any medications that you discuss this with your health care practitioner first.

Happy cleansing!!! And Happy Holidays!!!!

Dr. Cindy

11/15/18

Choosing the Right Cooking Oil

As grilling season winds down I find myself doing more sautéing and cooking on the stovetop.  Using a small amount of oil to cook your veggies or brown meat not only prevents food from sticking to the pan and causing a clean-up nightmare – the right oil also brings a plethora of nutrients of its own, adds important ‘good’ fat to your diet to help your body absorb the nutrients in the food you’re cooking and adds a ton of flavor.  With the grocery shelves full of a huge variety of options, many people question which to reach for.  So many to choose from!

 Which Oil Do I Choose?

Not all cooking oils are created equally.  Some are better for adding flavor to finished dishes while others are better for high-heat cooking. Here’s how to make some sense of them all.

 Best Bets For High Heat

High heat can break down some oils, causing them to oxidize, making your body more susceptible to carcinogens and cell damage.  Coconut oil (antimicrobial and adds a light fruity flavor), avocado oil (anti-inflammatory, very light and almost flavorless) and (if you don’t have allergies in your household) peanut oil are all great choices for frying and high-heat cooking.  These oils have higher smoke points and are able to withstand higher temperatures.  Ghee (clarified butter) is also a delicious way to get a buttery flavor and added nutrients at high temperatures.

 Ideal For Light Sautéing

Contrary to popular belief, olive oil is not ideal for pan-frying or cooking veggies over high heat; its lower smoke point means faster oxidation when heated.   If you like the taste of cooking with olive oil, choose light olive oil (not extra-virgin) for sautéing at low temperatures only.  Sesame oil can be mixed in for Asian-inspired flavor.

 Salads, Dipping, Finishing Drizzles

This is where extra-virgin olive oil really shines.  The olive residue that makes EVOO less ideal for high-heat cooking gives it huge flavor and makes it an excellent choice for salad dressing, dipping and drizzling over side dishes.  Hemp Seed oil and Flaxseed oil are two oils that that should not be heated and add great flavor and nutritious benefits when drizzled over finished grains and soups.  Store both of these oils in the fridge when not using. 

 Avoid If Possible

Canola oil, generic “vegetable oil”, soybean, sunflower, corn, cottonseed, and safflower oils are commonly used in packaged foods and commercial kitchens because they are very neutral tasting and relatively inexpensive.  However, these highly refined oils are very inflammatory to the human body and actually decrease your body’s ability to fight inflammation, which leads to the development of illness like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, autoimmune disease and more.

 With so many choices of beneficial oils to try out there, it can be fun to experiment with the different flavors, health benefits and uses that are unique to each one.A drizzle of oil can bring dishes from basic to exotic and wake up those taste buds!

XOXO,

Koren

Koren Bradshaw, MS, CLC is a clinical nutritionist and certified lactation counselor passionate about functional nutrition and lifestyle education.

11/8/18

Fall’s Bounty

Seasonal vegetables generally offer just the nutrients you need for best health in the coming season, and Fall’s final harvest is no exception.  Powerhouse veggies with high levels of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients help repair our bodies, fight cancer and strengthen our immune systems to prepare for the long winter ahead.

The abundance of root vegetables available in such as squash, beets, parsnips, carrots, turnips, celery root offer healthy complex carbohydrates, providing soluble fiber which aids digestion, helps keep blood blood sugar low and acts as prebiotic to feed all that good bacteria in your gut.  Root vegetables are also wonderful sources of vitamins A and C, both powerful antioxidant cancer-fighters and important for maintaining strong bones and a healthy immune system. Roasted or pureed, root veggies are filling and the perfect base for a cozy meal on a chilly Fall night.  Mixing in pureed parsnips to mashed sweet potatoes helps to cut the sweetness a bit and add a new twist to a yummy side dish.

Fennel is a late-season herb that is anti-inflammatory and chock-full of fiber, potassium, folate, calcium, vitamin C and Vitamin B6 making it beneficial for bone health, heart health and cancer prevention!  Its distinctive anise-like flavor makes it a tasty addition to Fall dishes such as soups and roasts. Escarole is a hearty leafy green with major vitamin A power, not to mention Vitamin B, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B5, Vitamin C and minerals Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Selenium and Zinc! Add this awesome antioxidant and heart disease fighter to white bean soup for a delicious cancer-fighting lunch.

Cruciferous veggies such as collard greens, chard, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower are high in fiber and, like many of those above, contain cancer-fighting and inflammation-reducing compounds.  Cruciferous vegetables also aid in liver (i.e. whole body!) detoxification and promote hormone balance and blood sugar regulation. Cruciferous veggies are best served steamed or roasted with lots of garlic.

As the air outside cools down, Fall is the ideal time for more warming foods to help keep your body calm and balanced.  Soup is one of my favorite meals to prepare during the colder months – they’re really flexible recipes and a great way to incorporate lots of veggies.  Soups are also super easy to prepare in advance in a slow-cooker or instant pot and usually provide enough leftovers for easy meals later in the week – I’ll take anything that makes weeknight dinners easier!  

Here’s one of my favorite fall soup recipes that I’ve slowly adapted over the years:

Squash and Apple Soup

INGREDIENTS

Avocado oil or ghee

4 large garlic cloves, minced

1 large shallot, diced

½ head fennel, cored + chopped

2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded + chopped

3-4 carrots, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped

3 thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

3 1/2 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Heat 2 Tbsp oil in heavy 6-8 quart pot.

Add garlic and shallot to oil and cook until garlic is pale gold in color, about 1 minute.   Add fennel, celery and carrots and sauté for about 8 minutes until vegetables begin to soften; add apple and cook 2 minutes more.  Add squash, thyme, bay leaves, broth, water, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered, until all vegetables are soft and tender, about 30.  Remove and discard thyme and bay leaves.

In batches, purée about 4 cups of the soup in a blender until smooth. (Be careful not to fill the blender more than 1/3 full at a time, as hot liquids can often ‘jump’.)  I like to leave some of the cooked veggies intact for a more rustic soup, but you can certainly puree all for a smoother soup. Return to pot and season with salt, pepper, and vinegar to taste.

XOXO,

Koren

Koren Bradshaw, MS, CLC is a clinical nutritionist and certified lactation counselor passionate about functional nutrition and lifestyle education.

11/1/18

What does “Fall Back” mean when it comes to our health?

Daylight Savings Time is coming to an end this weekend, when we turn back our clocks and welcome an extra hour of sleep – at least for anyone who isn’t the parent of young children.   Along with that “Fall Back” comes shorter days, meaning fewer hours of weaker sunlight, as the earth tilts on its axis away from the sun. What this can also mean, particularly for those of us in the chilly northeast, is a drop in our vitamin D stores and a potential to develop a deficiency in this important vitamin.

Vitamin D, the ”Sunshine Vitamin”, is a fat-soluble vitamin that is manufactured by our bodies when sunlight hits our skin and is converted to a usable form of vitamin D by cholesterol.   Vitamin D plays a number of vital roles in our bodies, often behaving more as a hormone than a vitamin, and is largely unavailable naturally in most foods. As Winter approaches and we spend less time outside, the resulting lack of vitamin D in our bodies can have a pretty big impact on our health.  

Many people know that vitamin D is important for strong bones – vitamin D helps us absorb and use calcium, which is why most milk is fortified with vitamin D.  But did you know that vitamin D is one of the most important hormones and, along with thyroid hormone, is needed and used by every single cell in your body? Along with building strong bones, vitamin D is also necessary for:

Immune System Function

  • Gene Regulation

  • Increased Brain Power and Clarity

  • Lowered Cancer Risk

  • Fertility

  • Reduction of Inflammation

  • Improved Sleep

  • Fighting Depression and Anxiety

  • Reduced Asthma

  • Optimizing Metabolism and Weight Management

  • Reduced Risk of Heart Disease


In other words, vitamin D is hugely important!!  In colder climates, vitamin D deficiency is extremely common, with some studies showing up to 70% of the population having below-optimal levels.  Some surprising symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include fatigue, a general feeling of being ‘unwell’, depression and anxiety (“Winter Blues”), bone or muscle pain, stress fractures, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and autoimmune diseases.  Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to increase your vitamin D levels naturally.

Get Tested

A quick blood test can pinpoint where you stand in terms of vitamin D.  ‘Normal’ levels range from 25 to 137 nmol/L or 10 to 55 ng/ml, however for optimal health I recommend aiming for 100 to 160 nmol/L or 40 to 65 ng/ml.

Spend More Time Outdoors

This can be a tall order in the cold winter months, but 10-20 minutes spent outside at lunchtime (without sunscreen!) when the sun is at its strongest can help provide a boost.

Include the Right Foods

Though vitamin D is pretty scarce in most foods, there are dietary sources.  The current RDI for vitamin D is 600 UI per day, however during winter months with less sunshine, you should consider increasing to around 1,000 UI per day.   Good foods to try include:

  • Coldwater fish, such as cooked mackerel, cooked salmon or sardines (345, 360 and 250 IU of vitamin D, respectively)

  • Canned Tuna (236 IU)

  • Oysters (320 IU) and Shrimp (152 IU)

  • Whole eggs (20 IU vitamin D)

  • Fish Oil, such as cod liver oil, provides a whopping 1,360 IU of vitamin D per tablespoon.  There are many good options out there today that are lemon flavored and do not have a ‘fishy’ taste.

  • Fortified Foods – Milk, Cheese, Orange Juice. Though not a first choice, consuming fortified foods can help provide necessary dietary vitamin D.


Supplementation

Natural sources of any vitamin will always take first prize, but taking a vitamin D supplement is another easy way to optimize your levels.  Be sure that you are taking vitamin D3, which is the most usable and beneficial form of vitamin D for humans, and look for a supplement that doesn’t contain fillers, artificial colors or sugars.  Adding a Magnesium supplement may also help increase your body’s efficient use of vitamin D.

Hoping you all get to enjoy that extra hour of sleep – spend some of those precious daylight hours outdoors!

XOXO,

Koren

Koren Bradshaw, MS, CLC is a clinical nutritionist and certified lactation counselor passionate about functional nutrition and lifestyle education.

10/26/18

Meal Plans made easy for families with allergies and food sensitivities.

I’m often asked for healthy, easy, kid friendly meals. Some kids often require their food to be gluten, dairy and nut free too. I know it makes it hard but see below for some family friendly foods that will make the entire family happy!

This simple advice will save you time while keeping stress levels low.

Picking up take-out food or finding other last-minute dinner solutions aren't always an option for families with food allergies. Advance menu planning is an organization and coping strategy that helps avoid mealtime problems and makes your family happy and be less Hangry!

Now what? Where to even start? Stay positive! Focus on what your child can eat!. Try to shift your point of view.

Yup, the dreaded meal planning process. Follow these easy peasy tips.

1. Plan Ahead. Manage your time. Make a quick decision and stick with it. You’ll be amazed at how much less stressful dinner is when you go into it with a plan.

2. Remember what works.  Keep notes on recipes that work on your phone to makes it easier when grocery shopping. Put favorites on regular rotation so that you don’t have to plan all new meals each week.

3. Find your sister-wives. Don’t insist on doing all of the heavy lifting! Ask your family what they want to eat. Maybe each kid gets a day of the week (or twice a month if they always pick hot dogs), or make every Friday your partner’s choice if you live together. Combined with one or two favorites that you’ve rotated into the week, you’re halfway there!

4. Make extra. This is a big one. Whenever you’re cooking a basic staple like rice, quinoa, beans or pasta, make double what you need for the meal. Then count on using the leftovers another night that week (or stashing the leftovers in the freezer for another week down the line). This bulk cooking as-you-go saves a huge amount of time and doesn’t require you to set a weekend afternoon aside for cooking.

5. Bulk Baby! Order foods in bulk at co-ops, wholesale stores, or shop for groceries online at Amazon.com.  

Below are a list of my family’s favorite foods. Hope this helps!

Tacos

Hard or soft, tacos in rolled corn tortillas or crispy corn shells are one of my kids’ faves.   I usually avoid the premixed seasoning packets in case of gluten contamination, but chicken or beef easily becomes taco filling with a little cumin, coriander and garlic powder, and tacos topped with a little avocado and shredded by spinach in place of lettuce are a yummy dinner treat.

Chicken

Less expensive than chicken breast, boneless chicken thighs have a lot of flavor and are super versatile.  Dipped in a whisked egg and then gluten free breadcrumbs (you can purchase at most grocery stores or even just toss a piece of toasted GF bread in the food processor), the thighs can be quickly broiled or fried in a little avocado oil on the stove.  

Sweet potato fries are a super easy side, just peel and slice a sweet potato, toss in avocado oil, salt, pepper and a little garlic powder and bake at 425 for about 20 - 25 minutes.

Pasta

There are many GF pasta options out there, I find the ones that taste the best are brown rice-based or chickpea pasta, which has the added benefit of being grain-free as well. Toss with olive oil, peas and chicken sausage or a little tomato sauce and meatballs made with GF breadcrumbs.

Fish

Cut cod into chunks, dip in egg and GF bread crumbs and quickly broil or fry in avocado oil for easy fish sticks.  

Salmon brushed with a mixture of a little maple syrup, mustard and garlic powder and broiled has a little sweetness kids love and is delicious with mashed sweet potatoes and green bean ‘fries’.

Soup

Soup is cozy and a really easy way to squeak in some veggies.  Try chicken rice, lentil, chili or vegetable beef for some gluten/dairy free options.  *if you’re purchasing ready-made soup, be sure to check ingredient list for hidden gluten.

Veggies

Most young kids will love (or learn to love) veggies that can be picked up and eaten by hand.  I always keep lots of frozen organic veggies (from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods) on hand for quick and easy sides when I don’t have time to prepare fresh.  They can usually be prepared in minutes - my kids’ favorites are peas, broccoli florets, green beans, butternut squash and roasted Brussels sprouts! A new favorite discovery: the rainbow cauliflower florets from Trader Joe’s.  I also find that kids love seasoning and flavor - don’t be afraid to cook veggies with lots of garlic and a sprinkle of salt.

Hope this helps!!

XOXO,

Koren Bradshaw, MS, CLC is a clinical nutritionist and certified lactation counselor passionate about functional nutrition and lifestyle education.