THE ULTIMATE MASTER CLEANSE

Companies are always advertising the latest “detox” or “cleanse” that you should purchase.  They purport to have the perfect combination of ingredients to cleanse your system, prepare your body for weight loss or to make you healthier.  As a nutrition specialist, I am letting you all know that it is a bunch of hogwash! You should also know that every time I see some company post about their version of a “magic detox”, I immediately start fighting the air and cursing!  But never fear. I am here to give to you the ULTIMATE CLEANSE recipe. I’ll go one step further… I am going to give you this recipe FREE OF CHARGE and I actually encourage you to share this with all of your friends and family.  Are you ready??????

drumroll-please2

ULTIMATE CLEANSE 

1.  One healthy LIVER

2.  Two healthy KIDNEYS (two are best… however you can enjoy the modified cleanse with only one)

3.  One healthy SPLEEN

That’s it!  No blenders, juicers, manufacturers, stores, exotic and expensive ingredients needed.

Take care of these organs and these organs will offer you the best cleanse that money CAN’T buy!!  Let’s quickly look at the functions of each of these wonderful organs and what you should do to keep them healthy…shall we?

LIVER – One of the livers many functions is to monitor the contents of the blood and remove many potentially toxic substances before they can reach the rest of the body.  So basically, your liver, when healthy, is on a 24 hour 7 days per week seek and destroy mission when it comes to harmful toxins in your body. The only payment your liver asks of you in return  is to keep it healthy by:

  • Not drinking a lot of alcohol
  • Maintaining a healthy diet and get regular exercise
  • Staying away from medicines which can be harmful
  • Being aware of hepatitus and how it’s spread
  • Not touching or breathing in toxins

KIDNEYS – The kidneys remove waste and extra water from the blood which is then released from the body in the form of urine. It is very important that we treat our kidneys well and keep them healthy. Here is how we do this:

  • Lose weight (if you are overweight)
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Drink water
  • Choose healthy foods
  • Cutback on salt intake
  • Keep cholesterol and blood pressure at target levels
  • If you have diabetes, control your blood glucose levels
  • Don’t smoke

SPLEEN – The spleens functions includes filtering the blood and helps the body fight against infection.  To keep a healthy spleen, best things you can do are:

  • Eat a healthy diet which consists of a variety of nutrients
  • Drink water
  • Consume raw fruits and vegetables

Now look, I know that what I am saying may go against EVERYTHING you may know or have been taught… but I promise you it’s true.  Aside from making you feel like you are doing something good for yourself, or perhaps feeling a bit lighter… there is absolutely no scientific proof that would substantiate that “detoxing” or “cleansing” does anything for your body beyond what a healthy body can do for itself. My advice is to save your money and use it to purchase some fruits, vegetables, nutrient rich and high fiber carbs, lean cuts of protein or perhaps an additional exercise class. In the long run, this is what you will need to ensure that your body is receiving your daily detox for life!

You already have the ultimate built in detoxifying system. Your job is to keep it healthy for years to come.

Until next time,

BE WELL,

Please leave your questions or comments below, I would love to hear from you.   Like me on FaceBook  at https://www.facebook.com/VeggieRap?fref=ts and follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/veggierap

Holly A. Gray  Nutrition Specialist Triathlete 2015 SwimBikeMom Ambassador Team Member

Holly A. Gray
Certified Nutrition Specialist
Triathlete
2015 SwimBikeMom Ambassador Team Member


VEGGIE RAP SAYS: KEEP CALM AND EAT THESE 10 VEGETABLES

Hello all !  I’ve had several people ask me about the vegetables that I regularly incorporate into my diet.  Others have asked me about the health benefits of those vegetables.  So, with the chart that I’ve created below, I am attempting to answer both questions.  As i was creating the chart, I still am so amazed at the health benefits and the healing power that REAL FOOD has!! Understand that I do eat other vegetables besides what’s listed here.  However, these are the ones that I am consuming most weeks.  If there are vegetables listed, that you haven’t tried before, I encourage you to try them. Variety is the spice of life right?  In the next week, I’m going to be sharing my favorite recipes that I make using the vegetables to give you some different ideas about how to prepare them. So, come back and visit me so you will be sure to see what’s cookin’!  Until next time, BE WELL!!

Vegetable Nutrients Health Benefits
Watercress Vitamins A, C, K Antioxidants
Swiss Chard Vitamins A, C,K Helps to control heart rate and blood pressure
Collard Greens Vitamins K, C & Folate Source of beta-carotene which is an antioxidant
Baby Kale Vitamins C& K Contains beta-carotene
Spinach Vitamins A,C, K & Manganese Helps to prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Red Bell Peppers B Vitamins & Vitamin C Contains antioxidants and lycopene, which prevents aging of the skin
Broccoli Vitamins C & K Decreases the risk of diabetes & heart disease
Microgreens Vitamins C & E Promotes skin and eye health and fights certain cancers
Asparagus Folate Helps high blood pressure
Frozen Peas Vitamins B,K,C & potassium Fights stomach cancer, strengthens immune system

MY METABOLISM HAS FALLEN & IT CAN’T GET UP! (5 Tips to Boost Your Metabolism)

Have any of you wanted to punch your husband or boyfriend in the face because when he decides to drop a few pounds it’s as though he does it overnight and with minimal effort?  Meanwhile, you feel like you are starving and exhausted from working out and  you struggle to drop a pound.  How many of you like me, curse the DNA gods who gave your sibling the skinny gene? My sister is 5’8″,145lbs,  never eats a vegetable, fries chicken, eats fast food like it was one of the food groups and never exercises.  Meanwhile, I workout 5 days a week, train for multiple triathlons every year, watch what I eat, drink water, etc and it’s a struggle to hold it together.  One misstep and I promise you I will be back up to 250lbs in a matter of minutes! Well, listen.  If you have had these experiences, don’t worry.  You are not crazy.  The three things, over which we have no control that affect our metabolism are:

  • Gender – men tend to burn more calories than women, even while resting
  • Genetics – some people inherit a speedy metabolism (or what I call… it’s just not fair that my sister is naturally thin and I’m not!)
  • Age – after 40 our metabolism tends to slow down considerably.

So, how can you improve upon what nature didn’t seem fit to give to you?  Keep reading and I will give you 5 things you can do to get your metabolism moving in the right direction.

1.  Build Muscle – One pound of muscle needs to burn about 6 calories just to sustain itself.  One pound of fat only needs 2 calories.  This may seem like a small amount, but trust me, over time  this is one of the best ways to turn  your metabolism into a raging calorie burner!  Include strength training in your workouts!

2.  Make Your Workouts Bigger – Aerobic exercise can speed up your metabolism hours after the workout is over.  Try more intense classes or include a short burst of jogging during your walk. The higher the workout intensity, the more you will rev up  your metabolism.

3.  Hydrate – Water is very necessary to process calories.  Even mild dehydration can slow your metabolism.  So, don’t forget to drink water and snack on fruits and veggies, as these foods naturally contain water.

4.  Green Tea – Green tea and Oolong tea contain both caffeine an catechins, which are known to increase metabolism.  2-4 cups of either tea per day will allow your body to burn up to 17% more calories.

5.  Avoid Crash Diets – Crash diets are any diets where you care consuming ,<1200 calories per day for a woman and <1800 calories per day for a man.  These types of diets can cause you to lose muscle which will ultimately decrease your metabolism.  The body will burn fewer calories and you will gain weight faster than before you went on the diet.

Please remember to following me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/veggierap.  Like me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/VeggieRap?fref=ts

Check out my website at http://www.veggierap.com for a list of upcoming events and a complete list of services.

Until next time,

BE WELL!!

Holly A. Gray Nutrition Specialist Health Coach Triathlete 2015 Swim Bike Mom Ambassador

Holly A. Gray
Nutrition Specialist
Health Coach
Triathlete
2015 Swim Bike Mom Ambassador


HEY BABY…YOU SAY YOU CAN’T SLEEP? WELL, I GOT JUST WHAT YOU NEED….

OK….y’all need to seriously get your minds out of the gutter!!  Besides, if you are reading this blog post and it is waaaaaay past your bedtime, you really need to pay close attention because what I’m about to share with you could possibly be your answer to how you can fall asleep and stay asleep for the first time in forever!

INSOMNIA:  Inability to obtain sufficient sleep; difficulty in falling or staying asleep; habitual sleeplessness.  Insomnia is linked to various health issues such as psychiatric problems, overweight and obesity, increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes and substance abuse. I used to sufferer horribly from insomnia – many times running on 2-3 hours of sleep. However, I was not alone.  In the United States alone, a staggering 60 million people suffer from insomnia!  I never connected the dots between my insomnia, my obesity and my lack of proper nutrition.  I never made the connection until I got educated on the effects of certain micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) have on the body.  And let me tell you something, once I made the connection….I was able to fall asleep and stay asleep for the first time in years!!!!!! It was sheer magic.  What I am about to share with you is yet another way that lends credibility to the saying “LET FOOD BE THY MEDICINE!”

food as medicine

The Importance of B Vitamins

B Vitamins – B Vitamins help to regulate tryptophan.  Tryptophan is an amino acid which is very important for maintaining healthy sleep patterns.

  • B3 (Niacin)  Vitamin B3 increases the effects of tryptophan.  Making sure that you are eating foods rich in B3 is especially helpful for those who fall asleep, but wake up during the night.
  • B5 (pantothenic acid) – B5 helps to relieve the stress and anxiety which can lead to sleeplessness.
  • B12 promotes normal sleep – awake cycles.

What foods are rich in the B vitamins? Bananas, liver, liver oil, fish, turkey, nutritional yeast and molasses.

Calcium

Perhaps Grandma wasn’t too far off when she offered you a glass of warm milk before bed.  Turns out that calcium is a mineral that is also a natural relaxant.  It has a calming effect on the nervous system. So, what can we do?  Try incorporating the following items into your nutrition plan: dairy, certain seaweeds such as kelp, nuts & seeds (especially almonds & sesame seeds), beans, oranges, broccoli and calcium fortified products such as soy milk.

Magnesium

A deficiency in calcium can cause nervousness.  It can also cause a more shallow sleep, which in turn can cause you to wake during the night.  Great sources of magnesium are wheat bran, almonds, cashews, kelp and blackstrap molasses.

Iron

Iron has tremendous affect on sleep patterns.  Therefore, to have proper levels of iron is very important in the fight against insomnia.

Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an amino acid found in milk, meat, fish, eggs, beans, cheese and green leafy vegetables.  Tryptophan is important because of its production of serotonin. Serotonin slows nervous activity and induces sleep.  It’s a natural sleeping pill!

So, there you have it! Can you see why I am so passionate about nutrition ??? it’s simply the key to our good health and longevity. Everything from chronic disease, to obesity and yes, even the inability to sleep is all tied to how we nourish ourselves!  If you are suffering from insomnia, I encourage you to try the items that I’ve written about here.  Keep in mind that as we get older, the rate of absorption of vitamins and minerals slows.  So, give it a few weeks and don’t get frustrated if the you don’t notice significant results immediately.

As always my loves, I’m here to coach you through!  Until next time…

BE WELL!

Holly A. Gray Nutrition Specialist Health Coach Triathlete 2015 Swim Bike Mom Ambassador

Holly A. Gray
Nutrition Specialist
Health Coach
Triathlete
2015 Swim Bike Mom Ambassador

If you or someone you know needs a nutrition & health coach, please contact me by clicking here!


BUYER BEWARE – TOP 7 SOURCES OF HIDDEN SUGARS!

Thinking that you are cutting out all added sugars?  Are you trying to be true to your “no refined sugar challenge”?  Did you give up sugar for lent?  Well, you might be surprised that you are not doing as well as you thought your were.  Keep reading for a list of food items that you may not have been aware have tons of added sugar!

When reading this list, please keep in mind that the American Heart Association recommends that women have no more than 100 calories of sugar per day.  This translates into approximately 6 teaspoons.  Men are to have no more than 150 calories or 9 teaspoons of sugar daily.

1.  Pasta sauces – Most pasta sauces have about 6g-12g of sugar per half cup serving.  This is the equivalent of consuming a chocolate chip cookie.  To avoid the extra sugar in the pasta sauces, please read the labels for the sugar content of the sauce prior to purchasing or make your own sauce from fresh ingredients.

2.  Granola bars – many people consume granola bars thinking that they are a healthy snack option.  However, most bars contain between 8g-12g of sugar.  In large part due to the added corn syrup, brown sugar, honey and chocolate coatings.   A great alternative would be to just eat granola which will take the sugar down to approximately 5 grams.

3.  Dried and Canned Fruit – Dried fruit contains a lot of sugar by volume.  In fact a small .5oz box of raisins contains more than 25g of sugar.  A better alternative would be to eat a cup of fresh grapes, which only contains about 15g of sugar.  Canned fruit contains about 39g per 1 cup serving.  You can minimize the sugar by draining the container it comes in which will get you to around 15g.  Again, fresh fruit is always the better option!

4.  Salad dressing – Watch out for the sweet salad dressings like French, Catalina and raspberry vinaigrette.  These dressings carry between 5g and 7g per 2 teaspoons serving.  Be Careful!!

5.  Breakfast cereals –  Here is another stash of sugar and I’m not just talking about the “kiddie cereal” either.  There are very  healthy sounding cereals like raisin bran and others that have 10g -20g of sugar per 1 cup serving!!!  Please be sure to read the nutrition label.

6.  Energy drinks – Tired throughout the day and want a boost of energy so you turn to an energy drink.  I don’t know about you but I think 25g of sugar per 8oz serving is a lot to pay.  Believe it or not, you should try drinking water when you feel tired.  Your mind may tell you that you’re suffering from lack of energy but your body is craving more hydration.  If that doesn’t work try taking in some healthy carbs for a pick me up!

7.  Yogurt – Many yogurts carry between 17g and 33g of sugar per 8oz serving.  This is the equivalent to 1 cup of chocolate ice cream.  Look for low sugar varieties when purchasing yogurt or buy plain yogurt and add your own fresh fruit!

Moral of the story is that not everything that appears to be healthy is healthy.  Read the nutrition labeling before purchasing and make substitutions when necessary. Added sugar means added calories.  If you are trying to lose weight or if your goal is to decrease your blood sugar levels because of pre-diabetes or other health issues, hidden sugars could be preventing you from attaining your goals!

Until next time, be well!

Holly A. Gray Certified Nutrition Specialist Health Coach Triathlete 2015 Swim Bike Mom Ambassador Team Member

Holly A. Gray
Certified Nutrition Specialist
Health Coach
Triathlete
2015 Swim Bike Mom Ambassador Team Member


TOP 8 DIETING MISTAKES

Hey you guys!!!!  Just wanted to share a couple of things with you.  First, let me be clear there are probably hundreds if not thousands of dieting mistakes one could make.  Trust me, I know because I’ve made at least 100 of them over the years. Guess what… it doesn’t bother me in the least because I know now that I am capable of overcoming my mistakes AND you all get to benefit from them because I’m here to share and coach you through!!  Here are the 8 mistakes which, when able to correct them, made the most impact.

1.  POOR CHOICE OF WORDS  – You must must must must stop using the word diet.  It’s important to change your entire mindset.  When most of us think of the word “diet”, we think of something temporary –  a way to lose a couple of pounds before a wedding or high school reunion.  This is one of the main causes why people go through the vicious cycle of losing weight and then gaining the weight back.  You might know this as the yo-yo diet syndrome.  So, how do you fix this?  You begin to change your mindset – the way you think about food.  Replace “I am going on a diet”, with “I am going to start nourishing my body properly” or “In order for me to be healthy, to live longer and to live my best life, I need to be mindful of what I’m eating”.  You see, when we start to think of food in this manner, it gives us a sense of permanence.  It’s no longer a temporary diet, but rather a permanent change in lifestyle!

cycle of yo-yo dieting

2.  SKIPPING BREAKFAST – For many of us, skipping out on breakfast leads to unplanned snacking & eating larger portions at lunch.  There have been many studies done showing that breakfast eaters are more likely to maintain a healthy weight.  If you don’t want to eat a full breakfast in the morning, blend a drink of fruit and veggies, eat a piece of fruit, grab a piece of whole wheat toast…. but eat something!!

3.  LOSING TRACK OF SNACKS  – You have to be mindful of what you are eating in between your meals.  You have to take these snack calories into consideration when determining if you are overeating – everything counts!  When I was a little girl, my mother would always say “Pennies make dollars… so save your pennies!”  She was so right.  Well, just like pennies will eventually add up to a dollar, snack calories will add up to unwanted pounds!  If you have trouble remembering at the end of the day what you’ve eaten, use a written or electronic journal to keep track. How many of you have thought, I don’t know why I am not losing weight.  I am only eating 3 times per day and it’s all healthy stuff.”  It could be that your forgotten snacking is wreaking havoc on your weight loss efforts.

4.  SIPPING YOUR CALORIES – Let me just say this was the toughest for me to get through my thick skull !  I would count all of the food calories I was consuming, but conveniently leave off the bottle of wine, fruit juice, and the “smoothies” I would buy at the mall. The calories from beverages do count toward your daily calorie consumption. If you don’t pay attention this, it can turn into weight loss sabotage!  Now, you may be wondering if the nutrition coach still drinks wine?  Does the sun still rise in the east????  You’re darn right I do!!!  However, I am aware of the calories my favorite wines contain and I make the proper adjustments to the food I consume or to my exercise schedule (most of the time)  🙂

big wine glass 3

5.  LOADING UP ON “LOW-FAT” FOODS – This is a perfect example of why it is sooooo important to learn how to read nutrition labeling. Just because something says it’s “low-fat” doesn’t mean that it is low in calories or healthy.  Often times when fats are removed from foods, the manufacturer will replace it with sugar and salt so that it still has an appealing taste. Added sugars = added calories and too much salt can cause water retention and exacerbate issues for those suffering from high blood pressure.  

6.  DRINKING TOO LITTLE WATER – It’s important to drink water so that you stay properly hydrated.  When you are dehydrated, it can cause the following:  slow metabolism and  hunger signals sent to the brain.

7.  GOING THROUGH THAT DRIVE-THRU – I was so guilty of this!  I knew I had no business pulling my car into the drive-thru lane of the local McDonalds, Burger King, KFC or Taco Bell!!!  Lawd only knows!! But I would do it.  Lying to myself saying things like… “I’ll just get 3 wings and a buscuit”  or “I deserve this… I’ve been doing good all week!” Or my personal favorite “I won’t eat breakfast tomorrow”!  I don’t know what I was thinking!!  Like one of my favorite bloggers @Luvvie would say, ” MY COMMON SENSE MUST HAVE BEEN BUSY!!! ”  When you are trying to get back to healthy, the drive thru shouldn’t be your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th option. I know many fast food restaurants now supply a “healthy” menu. However, if you don’t have the discipline to choose these options or if you can’t help but add the chocolate shake to the McDonald’s salad, STAY AWAY!!!

24 hamburgers and diet coke

8.  SETTING UNREALISTIC GOALS – I can remember trying to lose weight.  I was eating right and exercising.  I remember one week when I was getting my butt kicked 5 days a week in boot camp!  I remember very vividly getting on the scale after a week of all of this healthy living and the scale said that I had lost … wait for it…. 1 pound!!!!  I can’t even tell you what I then said because I’m trying to keep this blog family friendly.  Needless to say,  I think I made up some words that day.  Listen, my friends.  Please remember that getting healthy, fit, & losing weight is a journey – it is not going to happen overnight. But I promise you .. IT WILL HAPPEN!  You didn’t pack on those pounds in  a week or a month so don’t expect to lose it that quickly. 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week is what the experts say is the amount of weight you should be losing in order to sustain the weight loss over the long term. Having unrealistic goals can also frustrate you and have you ready to quit.  Celebrate your successes, learn from your mistakes and never give up!

losing 15 pounds

Holly A. Gray  Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist Triathlete 2015 SwimBikeMom Ambassador Team Member

Holly A. Gray
Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist
Triathlete
2015 SwimBikeMom Ambassador Team Member

If you are in need of a nutrition coach, please reach out to me.  I am here to help you attain your health and weight loss goals!!

Visit my Website

Like me Facebook

Follow me on Twitter!  

Follow me on Pinterest!

Sign up for a FREE webinar called “Nutrition For Dummies” .  In this webinar, I will be teaching some very helpful and practical topics to help you lose unwanted pounds, improve your health, and increase your energy! And the best part is you will be able to get all of this info & ask me questions from the comfort of  your own home.  If you would like to attend the “Nutrition for Dummies” webinar, CLICK HERE

Until next time,

BE WELL !!!!


7 KEYS TO LOSING WEIGHT & KEEPING IT OFF

During my weight loss journey and in my continued quest to maintain an optimal weight, I had to employ a few strategies.  Here are the ones that I found most helpful :

1.  PLAN YOUR MEALS – After it is determined how many calories you should be consuming on a daily basis, plan your meals and snacks ahead of time.  Planning ahead will help you not to binge or to eat on impulse.

2.  BE A SMART SNACKER– Don’t undo all of the great work you’ve put in with your exercise and better nutrition choices by heading to the vending machine when you feel a hunger pang.  Instead, be prepared with healthy snacks such as fruit or some other low calorie snack choice.

3.  FIND LOW CALORIE ALTERNATIVES FOR YOUR FAVORITE FOODS – Have a craving for certain foods? Don’t repress it completely, but find a moderate, lower-fat option. Bake French fries instead of frying them, or eat cereal with skim milk over whole milk.  By including foods you enjoy, you will be more likely to stick with your nutrition plan.

4.  BE A SMART GROCERY SHOPPER – Stay away from the aisles that contain the high calorie, high fat and high sugar items. It’s better to avoid the temptation.  Make informed choices when selecting foods – learn how to properly read nutrition labels.

5. EXERCISE – Optimize the strides you are making by eating healthier, by implementing an exercise routine!  Even a 10-minute walk around the block or taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator can help. Starting even a simple program of cardio and strength training can produce enormous weight loss benefits, and make you healthier to boot.

6. OPT FOR WATER INSTEAD OF HIGH CALORIE/SUGARY DRINKS – Water will does not make you lose weight.  However, if we swap a high sugar/high calorie beverage, like soda, fruit juice or alcohol, for a glass of water, we can save several hundred calories per day.

Losing weight can seem like a very daunting task.  For those of us who have to lose more than a few pounds, it can seem nearly impossible!  So much so that we often stop our mission to lose weight before we even get started.  It seems like there’s a million get-thin-quick schemes out there, but so often they just lead to empty promises and weight problems that never go away. Put crash diets and dubious “detox” programs behind you for good, and finally meet your weight loss goals with a personalized program designed especially for you!  Aren’t you ready to finally let go of those unwanted pounds, to say goodbye to high blood pressure and diabetes medications, to feel energetic again?  I can teach you how to employ healthy eating habits, change behaviors that lead to weight gain, and give you all the resources and support you need along the way.  Once and for all, you will experience the type of change on your road to fitness that can be maintained for a lifetime.  I know this not just because I am a certified nutrition specialist, but because I’ve done it myself!

weight loss side by side faceweightloss side by side body

If you or someone you love is interested in getting healthy and fit, please contact me.  A list of services and upcoming events can be found at http://www.veggierap.com.  I can also be reached by email at veggierap@comcast.net!

Follow me on Twitter @veggierap! Like me on facebook  at https://www.facebook.com/NutritionForDummies

Until then,

Be Well!!


TOP 10 SUPERFOODS FOR HEALTH AND WEIGHT LOSS

SUPERFOOD as defined by the Oxford Dictionary is a nutrient rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health.  In my battle against the bulge and in an effort to get my blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels back to healthy levels, I had to change how I was nourishing myself.  I had to learn the effect of certain foods on my body.  The only thing I didn’t want to happen was to be HUNGRY all of the time!  As I re-learned how to eat, I realized something very important. YOU DON’T HAVE TO EAT LESS, YOU JUST HAVE TO EAT RIGHT!  Being healthy does not mean being hungry, no more than it means being a size 2!   Often time, we can also enjoy what we are eating and derive pleasure from it… although that is not foods real purpose.  Food is here to heal us, to satiate our hunger and  to give us energy.   There are many foods that can help us shed unwanted pounds and heal our bodies at the same time.  The superfoods I have listed here are my top 10 superfoods for overall health and weight loss.

SuperFoods1-1

1. AVOCADO – Avocado contains healthy monounsaturated fats.  It quiets hunger and contains fiber and protein.  I not only slice a half of avocado up and add to my salads, veggie tacos, shrimp tacos, etc – I also use them when blending my own non-dairy ice creams and puddings!  The avocado gives my recipes such a creamy texture AND it’s individual taste is masked when you mix with chocolate powder or fruit!!!

2.   BEANS – Beans are not only delicious, they contain large amounts of protein – without the saturated fats found in red meat.  Additionally, beans contain leptin – a hormone which controls appetite.  What I really love about beans is that they also contain a powerful combination of vitamin B, calcium, potassium and folate.  This combination of vitamins and minerals help to maintain healthy brain and skin cells, and also helps to reduce blood pressure and risk of stroke.

3.  LEAFY GREENS – Nothing new here right?  Leafy greens are just awesome for us.  They provide us with vitamin A, C & K, as well as folate, potassium and calcium.  Studies have also shown that they fight heart disease and certain cancers.   My favorites are kale, spinach, swiss chard, dandelion & mustard greens.   They are very easy to prepare.  Most times, I simply add these to my blender along with fruit to make a delicious green drink, smoothie, ice cream or sauce!

4.  BLUEBERRIES – Blueberries are anti-aging!!!  That’s right…they can actually make you look younger.  Blueberries are full of antioxidants, which saves cells from aging prematurely.  Researchers at Tufts University, found that when comparing blueberries to other fruits and veggies, blueberries contained the highest levels of antioxidants.  For those you trying to lose weight, blueberries are full of fiber and low in calorie – 4 grams per serving and only 80 calories for a 1 cup serving!

5.  CRUCIFEROUS VEGGIES – Cruciferous veggies include things like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and bok choy.  These vegetables are high in fiber, vitamins and mineral.  They are also know to inhibit growth of some types of cancer cells.

6.  GREEN TEA – Green tea hydrates like water.  It is also a metabolism booster.  Studies have shown that those who drink at least 5 cups of green tea per day could lose twice the amount of weight in week than those who do not drink this delicious drink.  I prepare both hot and iced tea with green tea leaves and sweeten it with stevia. Stevia is a natural herb, native to South America that is sweeter than can sugar and contains ZERO CALORIES!

7.  SALMON – Salmon is a lean protein which helps you feel full without adding fat!  Salmon is good for protection against cancer and cardiovascular problems. it is filled with vitamin D and B vitamins.  I tend to stick with the wild caught varieties of fish as they are less in contaminants than are the farm raised.

8.  OATS – Oats are very high in fiber. They contain a resistant starch, a healthy carb that boosts metabolism and burns fat.

9.  GRAPEFRUIT – Grapefruit contains a compound that lowers insulin ( a fat storage hormone).  The lowering of this hormone can lead to increased weight loss!

10.  RED WINE – This makes my heart do a happy dance!  Red wine contains resveratrol.  Resveratrol is an antioxidant found in the grape skin.  It stops fat storage and also can increase the metabolism rate for 90 minutes following the consumption of a glass!  Now, don’t go crazy with this one.  We are talking about a glass of wine with dinner not a bottle. CHEERS!

This is by no means an all-inclusive list.  There are many other foods that I would certainly put into the “superfood” category.  Should you have any questions about this list, other superfoods or need ideas on how to prepare these delicious foods for you and your family, leave a comment below or drop a note to me via email or my website.

Until the next time, BE WELL !!!!

Holly A. Gray  Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist Triathlete 2015 SwimBikeMom Ambassador Team Member

Holly A. Gray
Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist
Owner of Veggie Rap (a nutrition & health coaching business)
Triathlete
2015 SwimBikeMom Ambassador Team Member

veggierap@comcast.net

http://www.veggierap.com


A NUTRITION COACH CAN HELP WHEN LIFE PICKS FIGHTS WITH YOUR HEALTH AND WEIGHTLOSS GOALS

Anyone else out there have days that go like this:

I went to bed saying “Tomorrow, I am going eat healthy foods, I’m going to drink plenty of water and I’m not going to have any wine after work!” I believe have the perfect plan.   I laid my head on the pillow and drifted off to sleep with the knowledge that tomorrow will be a healthy day…. I can already see myself thinner!

Then the alarm goes off….late.  I’m rushing around trying to shower and dress, while yelling at my kid to get up and get ready for school. So now that everyone’s ready to go, I realize that there is absolutely zero time to prepare that wonderfully healthy breakfast because to do so would cause my child and me to be late for school and work.  So I grab a brown sugar & cinnamon  pop tart package, fill my travel cup with coffee and bolt out the door! (mmmmmm…poptarts). SONY DSC  As, we are sitting in the never ending, slower than molasses in January carpool lane, I hear my child say ” Mommy, I don’t have any lunch money and I also need some paper. ”   ARE YOU KIDDING ME?????!!!  So, before I completely have a melt down, I tell her to get out the car and that I will go get her lunch money and paper and bring it to her before I get to work.  So, off to the ATM, then the local convenience store… back to the school to make the drop off.. .now back in my car headed to the office. Finally, get to work.  I can feel the eyes searing into the back of my neck .  I can almost hear my boss, Judgy Mcjudgerson, criticizing me for being late, doubting the veracity of my excuse…blah blah blah.”Hmmph, late as usual!” “Well what happened this time, Holly?”.    UGH!! SHUT UP!

frazzled

Wait, did I have breakfast already?  I feel way hungry… I don’t think I ate.  I answer a couple emails and off I go to the little café, conveniently located downstairs, to get my breakfast.  There’s a few healthy options, but I am famished.  Let me get a couple pieces of fruit….and….some sausage & eggs.  it’s protein right?  That’s ok. I take the food back to my office and eat it.  I’m almost finished the meal when I remember the package of pot tarts I ate earlier that morning. UGH!  At this point I realized that I’ve eaten my breakfast and lunch calories already and it’s not even 10 am!

As it’s the first of the month, it’s lunchtime birthday celebration day.  What’s being served?  Pizza and cake!!  Now should I go find something else that might be a better choice or just eat this.  Well, I don’t want to be rude..I’ll just have a little bit. This is so not my fault!  Stupid birthday celebration day!!

Later that night, after getting the kids settled and finally having a bit of peace and quiet, I convince myself that due to the horrible day I had a work, the crazy morning with the kids, & my abysmal failure with my diet… that I am entitled to a couple glasses of Malbec. (mmmmmmm…Malbec)

Malbec  I finally go to bed thinking perhaps tomorrow will be better…I’ll be healthy tomorrow. Well, not tomorrow because that’s happy hour night… Maybe I should just wait until next month when things calm down out work, or (insert excuse here)

Who’s been there before? A day that you had the best of intentions for healthier choices, kicking off your weight loss, etc – only for it to turn in to the most epic craptastic day on record.  Let me tell you something, at one point days like this were know as Tuesday at my  house…sad but very true.

Ever ask yourself :

  • What is it that I could have done to make this day go better? 
  • Could I have made different  choices? 
  • What strategies can I utilize to assist me in making healthier choices?
  • My job, children, spouse, responsibilities, etc are not going away.  How can I deal with life, while still embracing a healthy lifestyle?
  • Why do I continue to reward/soothe/medicate myself with food?
  • Which foods are the healthiest options? Am I getting enough nourishment from my diet?
  • After all of my trying to eat well, why have I not seen any change.

Listen, my loves, none of us get it right 100% of the time. However, if we want to have health, happiness and longevity, we have to begin to make positive strides in the right direction.  We have to change our relationship with food.  We need to be able to answer those questions I posed above.

In my own experience the three things that helped me the most were KNOWLEDGE, ENCOURANGEMENT & ACCOUNTABILITY.

I needed someone to teach me about how to nourish my body with the proper foods, how much I should be eating, provide me with food plans and recipes, how to use food as medicine & energy.  I also needed access to someone to talk to when I ran into stumbling blocks, had questions or needed advice from someone who understood the process.  Finally, I needed to be held accountable.  To have a person to check-in with me to make sure I was sticking to my plan, staying true to my goals and offering words of encouragement along the way.

What I needed was a nutrition coach!

IMG_1618Follow Holly A. Gray, Nutrition Coach and Veggie Rap Facebook pages

Visit http://www.veggierap.com for a list of services and contact information


The Big “O”….Should We Be Buying Organic or Not?

As I began to change my eating habits, I knew I needed a larger intake of fruits and vegetables.  Once I really started paying attention at the grocery store, I realized that I had so many options… the biggest of which was organic vs. non-organic options.  I didn’t know what to do.  My gut said that “organic” was one of those words which to me were synonymous with “healthy”.  However, my purse was saying girl… puhlese!  You will go broke trying to buy this stuff!  So, I told my brain and my purse to shut for a minute while I did a bit of research to answer the question:  Are organic foods healthier and/or safer than their non-organic brothers and sisters?

The answer to that question is not as clear cut as you might think.  First, I had to get clear on what organic actually means.  In order to get the USDA organic seal, foods need to have been grown, handled and processed by certified organic facilities.  These facilities  must be wholly organic.  Meat, poultry, eggs and dairy need to be produced from animals who were not given hormones or antibiotics and who have been fed organic crops.  Organic crops must be free of conventional pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and without bioengineering.  The USDA, however, notes that the organic seal DOES NOT mean that a food is healthier or safer than its nonorganic equivalent.  Moreover, there was a review in 2010 looking at various studies of organic foods and health benefits over the past 50 years.  The conclusion was that there is not enough good data to determine one way or the other if organic foods are healthier (Dangour et al.,2010).

There was a subsequent review in 2012 (Smith-Spangler et. al.,2012) that concluded that there was a lack of evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than nonorganic foods.  However, they also concluded that the consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

One more tidbit I found interesting.  The Environmental Work Group (EWG, 2012) conducted a study to see which fruits and vegetables, grown in the conventional/non-organic fashion,  had the highest and lowest levels of pesticides.  They declared the following foods to be the ”Dirty Dozen” (foods you should buy organic) :

  • Celery
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Nectarines
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Spinach
  • Kale/Collard greens
  • Cherries
  • Potatoes
  • Grapes (imported)

Well, dang!  If these are the dirty dozen… what is actually clean?  Here is what the EWG terms the “Clean 15” (lowest in pesticides – making choosing the organic version less necessary)

  • Onions
  • Avocado
  • Sweet corn (frozen variety)
  • Pineapples
  • Mango
  • Sweet peas (frozen variety)
  • Asparagus
  • Kiwi
  • Cabbage
  • Eggplant
  • Cantaloupe (domestic_
  • Watermelon
  • Grapefruit
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Honeydew melon

My next question was:

Are there downsides to buying organic?

  • One common concern with organic food is cost. Organic foods typically cost more than do their conventional counterparts. Higher prices are due, in part, to more-expensive farming practices.
  • Because organic fruits and vegetables aren’t treated with waxes or preservatives, they may spoil faster. Also, some organic produce may look less than perfect — odd shapes, varying colors or smaller sizes. However, organic foods must meet the same quality and safety standards as those of conventional foods.

Food safety tips

Here are some common sense food safety tips (courtesy of the Mayo Clinic) that I’ve employed in my daily nutrition regiment that I found to be extremely helpful. Whether you go totally organic or opt to mix conventional and organic foods, be sure to keep these tips in mind:
  • Select a variety of foods from a variety of sources. This will give you a better mix of nutrients and reduce your likelihood of exposure to a single pesticide.
  • Buy fruits and vegetables in season when possible. To get the freshest produce, ask your grocer what day new produce arrives. Or buy food from your local farmers market.
  • Read food labels carefully. Just because a product says it’s organic or contains organic ingredients doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a healthier alternative. Some organic products may still be high in sugar, salt, fat or calories.
  • Wash and scrub fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water. Washing helps remove dirt, bacteria and traces of chemicals from the surface of fruits and vegetables. Not all pesticide residues can be removed by washing, though. You can also peel fruits and vegetables, but peeling can mean losing some fiber and nutrients.

So remember, there is no evidence that organic foods are healthier.  However, there is some compelling evidence that we can avoid the consumption of some potentially unhealthy toxins by avoiding some nonorganic foods.

Until next time, be well!