Do you get hangry? You know, that nasty feeling of hungry plus angry. It often rears its ugly head in the afternoon. Irritability like that can come from neglecting your body's basic need – regular, nutritious, satisfying meals. And by skipping meals, waiting too long, or mindlessly grabbing the wrong choices like sugary snacks and coffee, you are sending your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride from hell! By now, you know that sugar dips and highs are the root cause of cravings, mood swings, weight gain, energy crashes and many other symptoms and diseases.
Instead, set yourself up for success to reach your health goals, and do your brain and body a world of good while you're at it: A little advanced planning to fill your pantry and fridge with life-sustaining foods makes it easy to whip up a healthful meal or snack, or grab it on the go. Imagine having a salad bar in your fridge? Your kitchen becomes your very own enticing gourmet health food store.
Whether you are gluten-free, vegan, keto or any other dietary practice, the magic formula to stabilizing blood sugar, reducing cravings, losing weight, sustaining energy and feeling your best is: Fiber + Protein + Healthy Fat at each meal. I can't say this enough.
Practice Healthy Shortcuts
Stock the pantry with healthful, organic “convenience” foods so you can put a meal together quickly, without sacrificing nutrition. For example, wash, chop and store veggies in glass containers in the fridge for several days to have them on hand. Hard boil 6-12 eggs. Steam or roast sweet potatoes or fingerlings and keep in the fridge. Great basics to have on hand include:
Just whip up a jar of extra virgin olive oil, your favorite vinegar, a spoonful of mustard or tahini to emulsify, salt and pepper and you can have a healthy meal on the table in less than 20 minutes. Grab my Healthy Pantry List here for more shortcuts to have on hand.
This beautiful salad took me less than 10 minutes to put together since my ingredients were ready and waiting for me.
Pre-blanched green beans, steamed fingerling potatoes, a box of washed arugula, hard-boiled eggs, leftover roasted wild salmon, tomatoes, and lots of fresh chopped herbs made for a very satisfying, blood-sugar balancing meal.
Did you see the recent report on eggs and cholesterol, maybe in the Wall Street Journal or on CNN? Are you confused by the frequent flip-flopping advice on cholesterol, heart disease, and what's healthy? I'm here to tell you that most of us can relish our omelettes! Here's why.
1. The study behind the report didn't limit its observation to actual egg consumption, but rather “ingredients in mixed dishes.” This includes cookies, cakes, and ice cream. Seriously?! Come on now.
2. It was an observational study. Observation does not equal causation. It doesn't account for chance, poor data collection, ignoring other foods consumed, and conflicts of interest. Who's behind the study? It turns out many of the researchers have connections to the pharmaceutical industry, including companies that make statins – drugs heavily prescribed for high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.
3. In 2016, after many years of controlled research on eggs that showed no relationship between the amount of cholesterol we eat and the risk of heart disease, the U.S. actually reversed its guidelines on dietary cholesterol in 2016, removing any limitation. These studies have shown that our bodies are pretty brilliant when it comes to eating cholesterol, with a rise in good cholesterol to maintain a healthy balance. See one report here.
4. Cardiovascular health is determined by other dietary factors including what else we are eating besides saturated fats such as fiber and polyunsaturated fats. See report on this correlation here.
5. In 25% of us, while eating eggs modestly increases both LDL and HDL cholesterol, it doesn’t increase the risk of heart disease. But for a very small subset of people who are genetically predetermined to be sensitive to cholesterol intake, reducing dietary cholesterol might be a good thing.
Oh, and by the way, that recent, flawed observational study found that the risk from eating eggs is a ridiculously low 2 cardiovascular events in 1,000 person-years!
The bottom line: Enjoy your eggs, which are abundant in vitamins, minerals and protein, and get your cholesterol checked when you see your doctor. To calculate risk: current medical thinking points to your non-HDL cholesterol (LDL) as being the important number as well as your triglyceride level. See here and here to learn more.
My good friend Dorothea is Italian. Her family is from Sestri Levante, a town in Liguria where they make these beautiful, thin delicacies. She taught me how to make frittatas this way.
Excerpted from my book, Gutsy: The Food Mood Method to Revitalize Your Health Beyond Conventional Medicine. Get the book with 56 additional recipes free of the most common food triggers here.
3 T olive oil, divided
1/4 yellow onion, chopped
2 c fresh spinach leaves or 1 1/2 cups zucchini, chopped into
2 T fresh basil or cilantro, chopped
Pinch salt and freshly ground pepper
Warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in an 11” sauté pan, Add the onion and sauté until it begins to turn golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add onion and spinach or zucchini. Continue cooking, stirring, until wilted. If using zucchini, cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat. Add herbs and stir.
In a small bowl, beat eggs. Add salt and pepper and stir. Stir the cooked veggies into the bowl of eggs and mix well until combined. Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into the sauté pan and warm over medium-low heat, spreading to coat pan. Add egg mixture to pan and spread out thinly. Cook until edges become golden brown, about 5 minutes.
Using a round plate, cover frittata in pan. Carefully turn pan over to release the eggs onto the plate. The browned side should now be face up on plate. Slide frittata back into pan, uncooked side down. Continue cooking another 5 minutes. Serve immediately or at room temperature.
You may have seen my first Facebook Live post last week on my FB business page –"Nan Foster Health"– where I talk about the importance of healthy fats. Nuts and seeds are perfect little additions to salads, dressings, soups, and spreads in the form of nut or seed butters. They offer fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and poly- and monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. Together with clean proteins and veggies, nuts and seeds keep us full longer and reduce cravings between meals. But, there's more...
If you are pre-, peri- or full on menopausal, you have the means to help regulate your hormones in the palm of your hand. Seeds! Yet another one of nature's little gifts, seeds have phytoestrogens and can mimic hormone production in our bodies.
Try cycling estrogen-boosting ground flaxseed and pumpkin seeds for the first 13 days of your cycle or of the month. Then rotate to progesterone-boosting sesame and sunflower seeds. This rotation, in effect, follows the natural pattern of women's cycles.
Keep nuts and seeds in the fridge to keep their natural oils from going rancid. I keep mine in fun glass Ball jars for easy access and a daily reminder to enhance my day with a delightful nutty crunch.
Did you know that quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain? Here's a simple quinoa recipe I make weekly.
1 1/2 cups dried quinoa
1-2 T Ume plum vinegar
1 handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1/2 c toasted almonds, chopped
1/3 c currants
Rinse quinoa well, and put into pot with 3 cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until water is just absorbed. When done, pour quinoa into bowl. Add Ume plum vinegar in increments, and taste to be sure it isn't too salty. (Note: You can find Ume vinegar either with other vinegars or in the Asian foods aisle of grocery stores.) Add other ingredients and stir well.
Did you know your body communicates with you every day? Body talk can sound as simple as hunger and as complex as cravings, mood swings, fatigue, weight gain and headaches. These messages tell us something's up; they're the keys to understanding our personal health needs. Have you been listening to your body's clues?
The solution can often be found in food. What we eat directly impacts blood sugar levels, inflammation, hormone balance, the gut microbiome and immunity. Amazingly, we now know that certain foods even turn genes on and off – genes that may code for diseases.
Magic Formula: Protein + Fiber + Healthy Fat
Did you know you can improve your mood and health and minimize weight and cravings by eating in a way that maximizes nutrients and stabilizes blood sugar? As a gift to yourself in the New Year, feed your body's most elemental needs. Eating protein, fiber and healthy fat at each meal is the magic formula for nourishment and satisfaction.
What's on your plate?
For each meal:
And, to get really clear about how food is impacting you:
Sesame Miso Tofu Veggie Bowl
This dish is all about the sauce! As long as you can eat soy, this simple meal hits all the right notes – plant-based, tons of veggies and loaded with antioxidants, fiber, protein and healthy fats. If you're soy-intolerant, substitute with your favorite protein.
2 cups Forbidden Rice (This chewy black rice is high in antioxidants.)
1 package organic, high-protein, firm tofu (Please be sure all your soy-based foods are organic.)
5 veggies of your choice, sautéed in olive oil (Here, I've made 1 head broccoli florets, about 3 cups cremini and shitake mushrooms, and 2 heads baby bok choy.)
2-3 cups raw arugula and/or other lettuce greens
Olive oil for sautéing tofu and veggies
For the sesame miso dressing: (You'll likely have some left over.)
1/2 cup olive oil
4 T fresh lime juice
4 T white miso
2 T Tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
2 T rice vinegar
2 t toasted sesame oil
2 t sesame seeds
1 t freshly grated ginger
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes, optional
Rinse forbidden rice until it runs clear, and add to pot with 3.5 cups of water. Cover, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and continue to cook for 35 minutes. Turn off heat and let stand for 10 minutes covered to steam rice further.
Meanwhile, slice block of tofu in half so that you have two thinner blocks. Then slice widthwise into 1" strips. Pour about 2 tablespoons olive oil into large frying pan. Sauté tofu until golden brown. Flip pieces and repeat on second side. Turn off the heat. You can remove tofu and use the same pan for your veggies. Add another tablespoon olive oil to pan, and saute your veggies–for broccoli until just softened; for mushrooms–until well cooked and browned (note: you can also add a minced clove of garlic and splash of red wine once mushrooms are browned and cook until wine is cooked off); for leafy greens such as bok choy–until wilted.
Make dressing by combining all dressing ingredients and whisking well. Into bowl, layer rice, veggies, handfuls of arugula or other raw greens and tofu. Top with dressing. Enjoy!
When did you feel your best? Want to feel like your old self again? Believe it or not, commonly eaten foods are frequently the root cause of so many symptoms, including pain, fatigue, hair loss, digestive and sleep issues, even depression, and, when removed, can literally restore your health and even reverse a diagnosis. Read on to learn tips and grab a recipe for delicious Spinach Kuku.
You literally are what you eat. Food becomes your blood, cells and tissues. That means, food is directly impacting the way you feel and even the way you think. It all comes down to inflammation. Chronic inflammation compromises the immune system, may make the body attack itself, and left unchecked, can lead to heart attacks, strokes, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer.
You can discover your individual inflammatory culprits through simple food elimination and reintroduction. I know this firsthand! In my 30's I reversed lupus and arthritis. My book, Gutsy, has the info you need to do your own investigative sleuthing about gluten, dairy, and other top inflammatory foods. I'm excited to report that Gutsy just received a positive review from a news outlet covering the best in Southern Australia!
Did you know that gluten can be the secret catalyst behind lupus, MS, and other autoimmune diseases and symptoms? How about dairy as a root cause of joint pain/arthritis, rashes, excess mucous and even asthma? While each of us responds uniquely, some ingredients are universal inflammation triggers that need to be avoided: excess sugar, and vegetable and yellow seed oils–corn, soy, canola, safflower, sunflower.
Here are some tips to help you get started on your investigative journey. Once you feel better, play with adding the gluten and dairy back in for a few days and notice any symptoms in your body. Make sure you only add back one food at a time. Meanwhile, continue to limit sugar (the American Heart Association recommends limiting sugar to 6 teaspoons or 24 grams per day), and skip the inflammatory oils as much as possible.
bloodstream? Women, on average, are exposed to 168 different chemical ingredients
daily in personal care and cosmetic products! Download a Pocket Guide to
Harmful Ingredients and cross check your products. And try 100% toxin free
products from Pure Haven, including their awesome Comfort Oil, which banishes many
inflammatory pains within seconds. You don't need chemicals for products to work!
Kukus are delicious, spiced and herbal Persian frittatas. This one is gluten- and dairy-free and loaded with greens, herbs and healthy fats from olive oil and walnuts. They can be eaten any time of day.
Makes 12 large squares
1 10 ounce package frozen spinach, thawed
2 t olive oil
1/4 large onion, thinly sliced
2 T garbanzo bean flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 t dried cumin
1 t dried coriander
1/4 c walnuts
1 large handful fresh parsley leaves, about 1 c
1 large handful fresh cilantro leaves, about 1 c
2 T olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, convection oven setting preferably. Pour the 2 teaspoons olive oil into a saute pan and saute onions over medium heat until brown and caramelized, about 7-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl combine first 5 dry ingredients and stir. Using hands, press thawed spinach in a colander to drain excess water. Put spinach into a large mixing bowl.
Into a blender pour the walnuts, caramelized onions, dry ingredient mix, fresh herbs and eggs. Blend until very well combined. Pour mixture into mixing bowl with spinach. Using a spatula, fold mixture into spinach until very well combined.
Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil into a 9" x 11" baking dish or brownie pan. Distribute evenly to coat bottom and sides of pan. Pour spinach mixture into pan, and use spatula to spread it evenly. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until center is just dry, not wet and loose.
Allow pan to cool. Cut into even squares. Enjoy!
With all of the upheaval in our country and world right now, I'm acutely aware that there is so much to be grateful for. As we are about to gather together with family and friends, feasting on the delicious bounty that is Thanksgiving, I feel called to help children in the US whose stomachs growl daily.
Did you know that 1 in 6 children in this country struggles with hunger? Not only that, more than 13 million children in the US live in "food insecure" homes, which means there is limited or uncertain availability of safe, nutritious food at some points during the year. My heart hurts for those children who deserve to have their basic need for nourishment met.
I've launched a fundraising campaign for No Kid Hungry, an organization that makes a huge difference for hungry kids with their school breakfast program, summer meals program and after-school meals program. One hundred percent of our contribution goes directly to providing nutritious food to hungry kids so they have the energy to learn, laugh and live.
Every $10 donated helps connect hungry kids to 100 meals; $50 connects kids to over 500 nutritious meals! If you are moved as I am and would like to give this year, I hope you'll consider supporting this organization with me by donating now.
And to keep yourself nourished this holiday season, here's a fresh twist on the quintessential sweet potato. Lime is a citrusy counterpoint to the potato's sweetness, while coconut milk is a healthy non-dairy alternative to butter and cream. And grab my previous recipe for delicious, healthful Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies, if you haven't already, which you can enjoy any time. Happy, Healthy Thanksgiving!
Coconut Lime Sweet Potatoes
2 jumbo sweet potatoes or yams, about 1 1/2 pounds total
5 T full fat coconut milk
1 large organic lime, zested (or 2 smaller limes)
1/4 t salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash the sweet potatoes and poke several holes in them. Here's a cooking shortcut: Microwave each sweet potato individually for 4 minutes each. This cooks them halfway. Then place them onto a cookie sheet and bake in oven for 30 minutes. When done, slice down the center of each sweet potato and let cool.
Into a large bowl, scoop out the sweet potatoes and discard skins. Add coconut milk, 3 tablespoons of lime juice, lime zest and salt. Stir until very well combined and creamy.
Your prayers have been answered! You can lose weight and have cookies for breakfast.
As you likely know, I work with people on their health and wellness, and one thing my clients love is a detox that helps them understand what foods best support their health and which ones don't. Detoxes are a really great tool to fine-tune your eating habits and to help you upgrade your health if they’re done the right way. That’s why I want to invite you to join me for my fall 5-Day Detox.
Here's the scoop:
When you sign up, you'll get:
I know that detoxing can feel hard and downright scary. I want you to be part of a detox that feels doable and potentially even fun. Find out more about the 5-Day Detox here: http://www.nanfosterhealth.com/2018-fall-detox.html.
Sign up by October 31 to get the early bird price. And please let me know if you have any questions. I hope you can join us - I'm getting excited!
Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies
These delicious, nutrient-dense cookies are loaded with healthful fats. One or two for breakfast or as a snack will help keep you full longer.
Makes about 20 cookies
1 1/2 cup almond meal or almond flour
⅓ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2-3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
1 t baking soda
1 T chia seeds, soaked in 1/4 cup of water for 10 minutes (this will create a chia gel)
1/2 cup pureed pumpkin (from a can is fine)
1/2 cup almond butter
1 T vanilla
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
1 T freshly grated ginger
1/2 cup walnuts, broken into small pieces
1/2 cup dried currants, cranberries or raisins (no sugar added)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine dry ingredients (minus the walnuts and the dried fruit) in a large bowl. Make a small well in the middle and add the wet ingredients. Using an electric mixer, mix until well combined, then add walnuts and dried fruit and mix gently until just combined. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spoon out 2-3 tablespoons per cookie. Smoosh the cookies so they are flat – these won’t rise like other cookies do. Bake for 12-15 minutes, let cool, then enjoy. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for about a week.
Note: These cookies might look daunting, but they are so yummy and always a hit. If you make a batch of these, you’ll have breakfast for days as well as plenty of snacks. I recommend 1-2 cookies for breakfast. Have 1 instead of toast with an egg and some sautéed spinach!
The stories are everywhere, always uplifting, always inspiring:
Every day people just like you go out into the world and make their dreams come true.
They did it. Why not you? You’re no different than any of these successful individuals.
Why Couldn’t Your Dream Come True?
True, it sounds hard. In fact, it probably is hard, with a number of obstacles to overcome. That may be reason enough to put your dream on permanent hold.
“Obstacles are like wild animals. They are cowards, but they will bluff you if they can. If they see you are afraid of them...they are liable to spring upon you; but if you look them squarely in the eye, they will slink out of sight.” — Orison Swett Marden, writer.
Could a Plan Help?
The easiest way to turn a dream into reality is one step at a time:
Overcoming My Latest Obstacle and, of Course, a Recipe
Have you ever gotten a surprising lab result back and felt overwhelmed and scared? For no obvious reason, I'm faced with high blood glucose for the second time. Seriously?! A health setback can be so overwhelming. I find making a plan and taking action is the most calming, direct way forward.
Necessity Really is the Mother of Invention
As I try to uncover the root cause of the blood sugar situation, I'm experimenting with supplements and the grain-free ketogenic diet. My crispy brown rice-coated chicken nuggets won't cut it now. And while my hubby really likes them, I came up with something just as delicious and even more nutritious to satisfy both of us. High blood sugar definitely not required to enjoy these!
Deliciously crispy, nutty and loaded with fiber and good fats, these chicken nuggets are decadent and nutritious.
Serves 4 (with leftovers for lunch the next day)
2 1/2 lbs chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
1 1/2 c shelled pistachio nuts
1 1/2 c pecans
1 t dried thyme
1 t dried oregano
1 t paprika
1/2 t salt
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 c coconut flour
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat sheet pan with thin layer of olive oil. In a food processor, add the pistachios, pecans, thyme, oregano, paprika, salt and red pepper flakes. Pulse until well combined and nuts are ground into very small nut meal. Keep checking as you pulse.
Set up 3 mixing bowls side by side. Pour the coconut flour into the first bowl. Into the next, crack the eggs and whisk until well combined. Into the third bowl, pour the nut mixture. Place chicken pieces into coconut flour in small batches. Use a fork to flip pieces ensuring they are fully coated. Next, put chicken pieces into egg bowl and coat completely. Next, put egg-coated chicken pieces into nut bowl and coat fully. Lastly, put chicken pieces in a single layer on sheet pan.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until chicken is no longer pink in the middle.
I'm off to visit my son in London this week, so the topic of airplane meals has been on my mind. I prepared as I always do for long flights to ensure that I feel nourished and satisfied. I'm sharing my fun, easy solution with you, below.
What adjectives come to mind when you think of airplane food? Bland, mushy, tasteless perhaps? While nutritionists are hired by airline companies to create "well-balanced" meals on certain flights, let's face it, the food is a far cry from healthful or satisfying in my opinion. Trans-fatty snacks, overcooked veggies loaded with salt so you can taste them better in a pressurized cabin, and conventionally farmed meats are just some of their underwhelming offerings. And while I give them credit for providing gluten-free, vegetarian, even Kosher options, we can do them all one better.
Enter...the custom-made, multi-textured salad box. Layered with creamy, crispy, crunchy gratification and loaded with nutrients, the salad box is a multi-sensory pleasure any time, in a ready-made convenient, disposable container that's perfect for traveling. And to stabilize blood sugar during a long flight, a good dose of healthy fats and proteins is in order. For more on this, check out this article by fitness and health guru, Ben Greenfield.
Here's how to do it: Start with the small, 5-ounce plastic box of organic greens. Arugula is my choice for my upcoming trip. Take out a handful or two of the greens (save for another use) to make room for the other goodies. Add in healthy proteins and fats that help you look forward to delighting in this mid-trip meal. Make sure you've got plenty of different textures that help satisfy. Here, for my hubby's box and mine I chose:
• 2 T hemp seeds
• a handful of walnuts
• sliced radishes
• quinoa with currants, chopped almonds, parsley and a bit of ume plum vinegar
• guacamole: 3 mashed avocados with juice of 1 lemon and a 1/2 t salt
• spaghetti squash leftovers: previously roasted, shredded and combined with coconut milk, lime juice and salt
• smoked turkey roll-ups
Alternatives: hummus (unless it gives you gas), sliced cukes, jicama, carrots, chopped herbs, rice salad, tabouli, pesto, roasted chicken, leftovers, etc.
I always save the small plastic sauce/dressing containers, but you can buy them too. This dressing is made from blended zucchini, avocado, lemon juice, herbs a bit of water and dash of salt. A simple vinaigrette would be great too. Once assembled, wedge the dressing container into a corner of the box. Close the box, wrap with a rubber band and put the whole thing with a plastic fork into a large Ziploc bag, ready for your carry-on bag.
You can easily translate this simply prepared fare to homemade daily lunches to take to work in well-sealed glass boxes to amp up your nutrition every day.
Look, feel and cook your best. Get important health tips and easy recipes in your inbox.
As a Health Coach I design personalized programs based on your health goals and lovingly help foster gradual changes to build vitality and joy. Contact me to apply for a free 50-minute consultation.