Heartland Revival

Food for Thought

Drink To Your Health

Food for ThoughtAmber BransonComment
  Image courtesy of zirconicusso at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of zirconicusso at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

For many people who are eating healthy, their beverages can be sabotaging their efforts to achieve the level of health and vibrancy they desire. Are you drinking empty calories that prevent you from losing weight? Are you putting toxic additives and chemicals into your body? Upgrading your beverage choices can be the key to taking your health and wellbeing to the next level.

Making the switch to a healthier diet came pretty easy to me. I loved researching the benefits of plant based food and experimenting with new recipes. But for a long time I could never kick my diet soda habit. I was in total denial about the harm it was doing to my body. I still get a craving, especially when I am stressed and honestly, sometimes I cave. For the most part though, I can say that I feel good about the choices I make when it comes to hydrating. Here are a few switches and tips so you can drink to health:

  • Instead of reaching for the coffee pot the moment you wake up, try a cup of warm water with fresh lemon juice (about 2 tablespoon). This invigorating beverage supports liver detox – with fewer toxins in the body, you have more energy. Moreover, coffee promotes blood sugar fluctuation and sugar cravings – both of which can send you on the spike and crash energy roller coaster.
  • If you drink coffee throughout the day, you can transition yourself off caffeine more gradually with beverages that contain less caffeine instead of going cold turkey – e.g. black tea, green tea or green tea.  Green tea and white tea, in particular, have much less caffeine and are rich in health-promoting antioxidants.

  • Sugar in soda can cause a lot of health issues. Diet soda is no better – artificial sweeteners are toxic to our body, causing many health problems including weight gain and low energy. Instead of sugary soda, try mixing sparkling mineral water with pure fruit juice – start with a 1:1 ratio and as you get used to the less-sweet taste, increase the amount of sparkling water. Eventually, you will feel satisfied with just a splash of juice or a squeeze of lemon.

  • For those on the go, try having packets of green juice powder handy. They are great for boosting energy and provide a ton of antioxidants and micronutrients that are essential for vibrant health. I recommend the Daily Good Greens from Aloha.

  • In social occasions when you desire a drink or two, alternate your alcoholic beverage with water or sparkling water (add a twist of lime and it looks like a gin and tonic!) to help you reduce your alcohol intake while stay hydrated.

  • Don’t forget water! Clean water is the most healthful beverage. Dehydration can cause headache, low energy, sugar cravings etc. Carry a water bottle with you and sip often. 

I hope you enjoyed these tips and tricks for choosing beverages that benefit your health! Stay tuned for the next post of the "Healthy Eating for Busy People" series. I'll be talking about eating healthy while traveling..

Interested in learning more on how to break unhealthy habits and change your life? Let's talk! Contact me for a complementary session to discuss how we can work together and transform your health. 

Crowdfunding Round Up

Food for Thought, Out and AboutAmber BransonComment

This week on Facebook, a friend posted about the Flow Hive (which I'm dying to get) and that got me browsing through Crowdfunding sites looking for other health-minded/environmental projects. Being a creative person myself, I love the idea of people coming together to invest in others originality and creativity so I thought I would share some projects that I thought were fun and exciting! And even if it's too late to donate, check them out!

Flow Hive: Honey on Tap Directly From Your Beehive

Noocity Growbed - Ultimate Urban Gardening System

Green Pea Cookie: These delightful cookies are made from roasted green peas.

Smart Rope is an LED-embedded jump rope that connects to your smartphone.

A local small farm CSA in Virginia wants to renovate two large chicken coops into high tunnels that will grow year round organic food.

Plan Smart To Eat Smart

Food for ThoughtAmber BransonComment

Just a few years ago my meal planning mainly meant stocking up on frozen "meals" as breakfasts and lunches. After a LOT of practice, I can now say that I am at meal planner level: expert. If the thought of meal planning seems overwhelming, no worries. Keep reading for some tips to becoming a successful meal planner yourself.

Most busy clients I work with are actually very intelligent and knowledgeable when it comes to what a healthy diet and lifestyle looks like. The challenge is to make it happen in their hectic and over-committed lives. If you are like most busy people who are also very driven, you can turn this into your asset to help you implement healthy dietary changes.

For busy folks, planning smart is key to eating smart. If you make healthy choices available to you when you need them, chances are you will make better decisions. Here are a few tips to help you plan better so you can eat better and feel better:

  • Plan for the week ahead – plan out your meals for the upcoming week on the weekend, and do all your grocery shopping in one trip (which will save you time too!) If possible, set aside a couple of hours during the weekend to prep your meals – e.g. you can chop some veggies, or even cook the entire dish and put it in the fridge or freezer. You can even get your kids to help out, and make it a family ritual. Kids will have fun and they are more likely to eat the meals that they take part in preparing.

  • “Cook once eat twice (or more!)” – when it comes to healthy eating, nothing beats home-cooked meals made from scratch (a whole foods based diet). Having to scramble for dinner every evening can be challenging, and “Cook Once Eat Twice” can help you save time and headache. You can prepare more than one meal worth of food so you have leftovers for one more meal. You can also cook a big batch of grains and use them in different combination. For a meat option, grill a bunch of chicken breasts to keep on hand to shred for tacos or for quick casseroles.

Stock your fridge, pantry and desk drawer at work with healthy snacks – make sure you have some healthy snack alternatives handy so you don’t go for the vending machine which is usually stocked with less desirable options. If a fridge is available at work, try some hummus with celery sticks, carrots or broccoli. If you are always on the go, a handful of nuts with dried fruit or an apple with nut butter (available in single-use packets) can be great pick-me-ups. Keep in mind that fresh whole food is always better than processed foods – there are many “bars” on the market with “health claims” – however, most of them contain sugar, additives or processed food products that are less than desirable. If you have to turn to packaged foods, always read the labels to make smart choices.

  • Instead of getting caught with nothing for dinner, stock a few healthy frozen options so you don’t dial the greasy pizza place. Make a point to pair frozen meals and fresh veggies (even if it's just celery or carrot sticks with dips). My favorite thing to do is make a big batch of soup over the weekend and divide into individual containers and freeze.

  • Team up with a few other families or friends - each prepare one dish in a big batch, and then trade dishes - you will walk away with a week's worth of dinner!

 I hope you enjoyed these tips and tricks for planning smart to eat smart! Stay tuned for the next post of the "Healthy Eating for Busy People" series. I'll be talking about how your beverage choices affect your health.

Interested in learning how to establish a solid, smart eating plan? Let's talk! Contact me for a pantry makeover or a grocery store tour.

Making Recipes Healthier: A How-to

In My Kitchen, Food for ThoughtAmber BransonComment
 Art found  here.

Art found here.

Often times I find recipes that sound awesome but can be made a little healthier (IMO). I wanted to show you how easy it is to deconstruct a recipe and rework for maximize health benefits. I keep these 3 questions in mind when customizing recipes.

  1. How can I add more vegetables?
  2. Can I make this with less sugar? Or with a different sweetener (honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar)
  3. Is there a more nutrient-dense or gluten-free grain to substitute with? (If the recipe calls for a grain)

Lets take this recipe I came across today. It sounds delicious, looks easy to make and I've been on a pineapple phase so this is right up my alley.

Here are the ingredients called for:

  • 3 cups cubed fresh pineapple
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cubed (1 ½ cups)
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into thin wedges (1 ½ cups)
  • 1 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbs. dark or light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. sweetened coconut flakes, optional
  • 1 Tbs. lime juice
  • Serve over white rice

Here is what I would do differently:

  1. Reduce amount of pineapple (too much natural sugar) to 1 1/2 cups and add cubed zucchini (something green!) instead.
  2. Substitute vegetable oil for coconut oil. Vegetable oils cause inflammation (among other things) and the coconut oil will better complement the other flavors.
  3. Omit brown sugar as the pineapple has enough sugar. (reading comments on recipes that you've never made before can be helpful. many said that there was no need for additional sugar )

  4. Use unsweetened coconut flakes instead of the sweetened. Again, reducing sugar but not compromising flavor.
  5. Serve over soaked brown rice or quinoa instead.

There you have it! Cooking healthy food is not as hard as you think. What is a favorite recipe that you could rework to be healthier? Or what methods do you already use to make recipes healthier?

Let me know in the comments!

-Amber