Apple Spice Muffin & Golden Turmeric Latte

Even though here in Ontario we have been sweltering in the heat, it hasn’t kept me out of the kitchen. I have been baking up a storm and experimenting with some new hot drinks.

You may have heard the term “elixir” being thrown around lately as they are starting to gain alot of popularity in the health and wellness world. They are a highly nutritious drink that are made in a blender. The base is a warm/hot herbal tea and my favourites to use are holy basil, licorice, ginger and turmeric.

Once the tea is made, you throw this into your blender and add other goodies. I always include a fat such as coconut oil or butter and a sweetener like pure maple syrup or honey. At this point you can add in any other superfoods such as collagen or protein powder, maca or cacao etc.

Blend these amazing ingredients together and voila – you are ready!

Elixirs make for a great mid-afternoon drink or pair it with a healthy muffin for a balanced breakfast

Check out the Turmeric Ginger Latte recipe below and let me know if I have converted you yet

Turmeric Ginger Latte

Turmeric Spice Latter

2 cups ginger tea (or 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger)
1/2 cup coconut milk (cashew/almond would work well too)
1 cup Water
1 tsp Turmeric (powder)
1 tbsp Raw Honey
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp Coconut Oil (or coconut butter)

Grate the ginger then squeeze the juice out of it into a saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat for about 3 to 5 minutes.

Pour into blender and add remaining ingredients and blend.

Notes:

  • Beware the turmeric can stain the blender cup. Rinse all glasses and mugs out right after use to avoid turmeric stains. Use baking soda on turmeric stains if they do happen.
  • Skip the turmeric powder and use fresh turmeric root instead. Peel turmeric root and grate. Measure out about 1 tbsp grated turmeric root per serving.
  • On the Go – Add all ingredients except water to a mason jar. When ready to drink, just add hot water from the kettle and shake up for a warming, anti-inflammatory snack.

 

Apple Spice Muffins

Apple Spice Muffins

1 1/4 cups Almond Flour
1/4 cup Coconut Flour
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
2 Apples (cored and finely diced)

4 Eggs (whisked)
1/4 cup Coconut Oil
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
1/3 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a muffin tin with wrappers.

Combine the almond flour, coconut flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and sea salt in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Add in the apples, eggs, coconut oil, maple syrup and almond milk. Stir until all ingredients are evenly distributed then divide into muffin tins. (Note: To make them fancy, dice an extra apple and sprinkle it on top of each muffin. Then sprinkle with extra cinnamon.)

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely and enjoy!
Notes:

  • No apples, use pears instead.
  • Store at room temperature for 3 days, or freeze up to 3 months.
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Green Tea Supplements for Weight Loss

healthy green tea cup with tea leaves

Green tea extract is heavily promoted for weight loss but does it actually work?

Tea is from the plant Camellia sinensis. Green tea differs from black tea because it is not fermented before it’s dried. This is why green tea contains more antioxidants than black tea does. The type of fermentation uses enzymes that “oxidize” the antioxidants, so they’re in much smaller amounts in black tea. These antioxidants are of the “catechins” family.

Green tea also contains some caffeine and it’s the effect of both of these compounds together that are thought to help with weight loss.

GREEN TEA VS GREEN TEA EXTRACTS

The difference between drinking green tea and taking it as a supplement is that the extracts are more concentrated. For example, the highest dose of the extract that seems to be safe is 9.9 g/day, which is equivalent to 24 cups of green tea. While this dose may be “safe”, it’s likely to come alongside some side effects.

GREEN TEA EXTRACTS FOR WEIGHT LOSS

  • Green tea contains two main active ingredients, caffeine and antioxidants known as “catechins”.
  • Green tea seems to improve the fat-burning effects of exercise. It may result in the loss of a few extra pounds in people who are overweight.
  • A review of several studies calculated an average weight loss of 2.8 lbs after about 12 weeks.
  • It seems that the catechins and caffeine work together to help with weight loss so caffeine free versions don’t seem to work as well.
  • Green tea extracts seem to be more effective in people who don’t normally ingest a lot of caffeine.

 SAFETY OF GREEN TEA EXTRACTS

You’ve probably heard about the concerns with green tea supplements. There have been reports of them being linked to cases of liver failure and even death but what is the real deal on the safety of green tea supplements?

  • We still don’t really know the effects of long-term use of the extracts.
  • Clinical studies show that up to 1.6 g of green tea extract at one time are safe for most people. At higher doses, some people may experience headache, dizziness, and nausea.
  • Overall, hepatotoxicity (a.k.a. liver toxicity) from green tea extracts is rare, nonetheless, if you experience abdominal pain, dark urine or jaundice (yellowing of the skin), you should see your doctor and avoid supplements that contain green tea extracts.
  • Some factors that may make someone more susceptible to liver injury are obesity, fasting, and/or glutathionine depletion.

HOW TO TAKE GREEN TEA EXTRACTS

Green tea extracts are approved in Canada for use as a source of antioxidants. They’re also approved to help with weight management, along with reducing calories and increasing physical activity.

  • For weight management, Health Canada recommends consumption of green tea extract for a maximum of 12 weeks.
  • If you take green tea extracts, you should take them as directed on the label, including taking them with food.
  • Don’t take them if you:
    • Have liver concerns,
    • Have iron deficiency (it reduces absorption of iron),
    • Are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Discontinue if you experience any side effects.
  • Also note that they may interact with certain medications, so see your doctor or pharmacist to be sure.

My final note is for you to really think about why you are taking a supplement for weight loss. Is it for a quick fix? Do you want big results fast? If your answers are yes, then your results, if any may be short term. No supplement will ever be able to fix a poor diet or lifestyle. It takes commitment, hard work and consistency for a healthier future but believe me, it’s well worth it!

REFERENCES:

Banerjee, S. & Chatterjee, J. (2015). Efficient extraction strategies of tea (Camellia sinensis) biomolecules. J Food Sci Technol. 2015 Jun;52(6):3158-68. doi: 10.1007/s13197-014-1487-3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4444893/

Examine.com, Supplements, Green Tea Catechins. Accessed March 9, 2017. https://examine.com/supplements/green-tea-catechins/

Health Canada, Natural Health Products Ingredients Database, Green Tea Extracts. Accessed March 9, 2017. http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/atReq.do?atid=greentea_thevert&lang=eng

Hursel, R., Viechtbauer, W. & Westerterp-Plantenga, M.S. (2009). The effects of green tea on weight loss and weight maintenance: a meta-analysis. Int J Obes (Lond). 33(9):956-61. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2009.135. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0027694/

Kapoor, M.P., Sugita, M., Fukuzawa, Y. & Okubo, T. (2016). Physiological effects of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) on energy expenditure for prospective fat oxidation in humans: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Nutr Biochem. 43:1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2016.10.013.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27883924

National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, Green Tea. Accessed March 7, 2017.https://nccih.nih.gov/health/greentea

National Library of Medicine, LiverTox, Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury. DRUG RECORD: GREEN TEA (CAMELLIA SINESIS). Accessed March 7, 2017 https://livertox.nih.gov/GreenTea.htm

Rains, T.M., Agarwal, S. & Maki, K.C. (2011). Antiobesity effects of green tea catechins: a mechanistic review. J Nutr Biochem. 22(1):1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2010.06.006.  http://www.jnutbio.com/article/S0955-2863(10)00160-9/fulltext

Teschke, R., Zhang, L., Melzer, L., Schulze, J. & Eickhoff, A. (2014). Green tea extract and the risk of drug-induced liver injury. Expert Opin Drug Metab Toxicol. 2014 Dec;10(12):1663-76. doi: 10.1517/17425255.2014.971011.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25316200

Türközü, D. & Tek, N.A. (2017). A minireview of effects of green tea on energy expenditure. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 57(2):254-258.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26091183

Westerterp-Plantenga, M.S., Lejeune, M.P. & Kovacs, E.M. (2005). Body weight loss and weight maintenance in relation to habitual caffeine intake and green tea supplementation. Obes Res. 2005 Jul;13(7):1195-204.  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1038/oby.2005.142/full

Zhanga, Y., Yub, Y., Lia, X. , Megurod, S., Hayashie, S., Katashimae, M., Yasumasue, T., JWangc, J., Lia, K. (2012). Effects of catechin-enriched green tea beverage on visceral fat loss in adults with a high proportion of visceral fat: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial

Journal of Functional Foods. 4(1):315–322. doi:10.1016/j.jff.2011.12.010  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464611001162

 

What is Metabolism?

What is

This word “metabolism” is thrown around a lot these days. You know that if yours is too slow you might gain weight.  But what exactly does this all mean?

Well technically “metabolism” is the word to describe all of the biochemical reactions in your body.  It’s how you take in nutrients and oxygen and use them to fuel everything you do.

Your body has an incredible ability to grow, heal, and generally stay alive.  And without this amazing biochemistry you would not be possible.

Metabolism includes how the cells in your body:

  • Allow activities you can control (e.g. physical activity etc.).
  • Allow activities you can’t control (e.g. heart beat, wound healing, processing of nutrients & toxins, etc.).
  • Allow storage of excess energy for later.

So when you put all of these processes together into your metabolism you can imagine that these processes can work too quickly, too slowly, or just right.

Which brings us to the “metabolic rate”.

Metabolic rate

This is how fast your metabolism works and is measured in calories (yup, those calories!). The calories you eat can go to one of three places:

  • Work (i.e. exercise and other activity).
  • Heat (i.e. from all those biochemical reactions).
  • Storage (i.e. extra leftover “unburned” calories stored as fat).

As you can imagine the more calories you burn as work or creating heat the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off because there will be fewer “leftover” calories to store for later.

There are a couple of different ways to measure metabolic rate.  One is the “resting metabolic rate” (RMR) which is how much energy your body uses when you’re not being physically active.

The other is the “total daily energy expenditure” (TDEE) which measures both the resting metabolic rate as well as the energy used for “work” (e.g. exercise) throughout a 24-hour period.

What affects your metabolic rate?

In a nutshell: a lot!

The first thing you may think of is your thyroid.  This gland at the front of your throat releases hormones to tell your body to “speed up” your metabolism.  Of course, the more thyroid hormone there is the faster things will work and the more calories you’ll burn. Getting your thyroid  (and other hormones) tested prior to any weight loss program can be very beneficial so that any underlying metabolic issues can be addressed, or losing weight may be extremely difficult.

But that’s not the only thing that affects your metabolic rate. How big you are counts too. Larger people have higher metabolic rates; but your body composition is crucial!

As you can imagine muscles that actively move and do work need more energy than fat does.  So the more lean muscle mass you have the more energy your body will burn and the higher your metabolic rate will be.  Even when you’re not working out.

This is exactly why weight training is often recommended as a part of a weight loss program.  Because you want muscles to be burning those calories for you.

The thing is, when people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down which you don’t want to happen.  So you definitely want to offset that with more muscle mass.

Aerobic exercise also temporarily increases your metabolic rate.  Your muscles are burning fuel to move so they’re doing “work”.

The type of food you eat also affects your metabolic rate. Your body actually burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolize your food.  This is called the “thermic effect of food” (TEF). You can use it to your advantage when you understand how your body metabolizes foods differently.

Fats, for example increase your TEF by 0-3%; carbs increase it by 5-10%, and protein increases it by 15-30%.  By trading some of your fat or carbs for lean protein you can slightly increase your metabolic rate.

Another bonus of protein is that your muscles need it to grow.  By working them out and feeding them what they need they will help you to lose weight and keep it off.

And don’t forget the mind-body connection.  There is plenty of research that shows the influence that things like stress and sleep have on the metabolic rate.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to metabolism and how so many different things can work to increase (or decrease) your metabolic rate.

Are you getting enough protein during the day? Check out my recipe below for my tasty lemon chicken which is great for lunches or dinner.

Recipe (Lean Protein): Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken Breasts

Serves 4

 

2 lemons, sliced

1 tablespoon rosemary

1 tablespoon thyme

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced

4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)

pinch of salt & pepper

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

 

  • Preheat oven to 425F.  Layer ½ of the lemon slices on the bottom of a baking dish.  Sprinkle with ½ of the herbs and ½ of the sliced garlic.
  • Place the chicken breasts on top and sprinkle salt & pepper.  Place remaining lemon, herbs and garlic on top of the chicken.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Cover with a lid or foil.
  • Bake for 45 minutes until chicken is cooked through.  If you want the chicken to be a bit more “roasty” then remove the lid/foil and broil for another few minutes (watching carefully not to burn it).
  • Serve & enjoy!

 

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-energy-balance

https://authoritynutrition.com/10-ways-to-boost-metabolism/

Everything You Think You Know About Healthy Eating is Wrong and it’s Making You Fat and Tired

Grocery Store #1

Oh my goodness – nutrition and diet info is everywhere! Even i can get overwhelmed. Each expert and association tries to lead you in their direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you.  Right?

Well, maybe…

Everyone has heard (and maybe lived through) the intense focus on how much you eat.  This has gotten way too much attention because while this does affect your weight and energy level, it’s certainly not the “holy grail” of health.

Let’s focus a bit more on the often overlooked (and proven) benefits of what you eat and drink and how you eat and drink it.

What you eat and drink

The “calories in, calories out” philosophy (i.e. how much you eat) is being drowned out with research on other factors that may be just as important.  Don’t get me wrong limiting calories, carbs or fat can certainly help you lose weight but that’s simply not the only factor for long-term weight loss and maximum energy for everyone.

When the intense focus on how much we ate didn’t work in the long-run it wasn’t really a surprise. We kinda knew that already, didn’t we?

You can certainly still continue to count your calories, carbs, and fat but don’t forget to also pay attention to what you eat.

Ideally, you need a varied diet full of minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” “ready-to-eat” foods and more real food).  This simple concept is paramount for weight loss, energy, and overall health and wellness.

Every day this is what you should aim for:

  • A colourful array of fruits and veggies at almost every meal and snack. You need the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Enough protein. Making sure you get all of those essential amino acids (bonus: eating protein can increase your metabolism).
  • Healthy fats and oils (never “hydrogenated” ones). There is a reason some fatty acids are called “essential” – you need them as building blocks for your hormones and brain as well as to be able to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins from your uber-healthy salads.  Use extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil, eat your organic egg yolks, and get grass-fed meats when possible.  You don’t need to overdo it here.  Just make sure you’re getting some high-quality fats.

 

How you eat and drink

Also pay attention to how you eat and drink. Studies are definitely showing that this has more of an impact than we previously thought.

Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues? Do you drink your food?

When it comes to how you eat let’s first look at “mindful eating”.

Mindful eating means to take smaller bites, eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and savour every bite.  Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture.  Breathe.

This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes.

This can also help with weight loss because eating slower often means eating less.  Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full? Thought so!

We also know that more thoroughly chewed food is easier to digest and it makes it easier to absorb all of those essential nutrients.

And don’t forget about drinking your food.

Yes, smoothies can be healthy and a fabulously easy and tasty way to get in some fruits and veggies (hello leafy greens!) but drinking too much food can contribute to a weight problem and feelings of sluggishness.

Don’t get me wrong a green smoothie can make an amazingly nutrient-dense meal and is way better than stopping for convenient junk food – just consider a large smoothie to be a full meal not a snack.  And don’t gulp it down too fast.

If your smoothies don’t fill you up like a full meal does try adding in a spoon of fiber like ground flax or chia seeds.

Summary:

Consider not only how much you eat but also what and how you eat it.

 

Recipe (Smoothie meal): Chocolate Cauliflower Shake

Chocolate Cauliflower Shake

Serves 2

2 cups frozen cauliflower

2 frozen bananas

2 Tbsp almond butter (or any nut/seed butter)

1/4 cup cacao powder

1/2 cup chocolate protein powder (I love the Vega Chocolate Protein & Greens)

2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or other non-dairy alternative)

1/2 Tbsp cinnamon

 

In your blender, combine all ingredients. Blend until smooth, pour into glasses and enjoy!

Optional:

  • Make it Mocha – Replace half of the almond milk with chilled coffee.
  • Likes it Sweeter – Add pitted medjool dates.

Blend, Serve and Enjoy!

Tip: Smoothies are the ultimate recipe for substitutions.  Try swapping different veggies, fruit or seeds to match your preference.

References:

http://summertomato.com/wisdom-wednesday-salad-dressing-is-your-friend

https://authoritynutrition.com/20-reasons-you-are-not-losing-weight/

http://summertomato.com/the-science-behind-mindful-eating-what-happens-to-your-body-during-a-mindful-meal

http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3061/2