Comfort Foods Fall/Winter & Holidays: Importance of Good Carbs

Happy October!  Summer is my absolute favorite time of year, but nothing compares to New England Fall foliage. The colorful leaves are nothing short of amazing and “may be even more attractive than the many beautiful flowers of Spring.” I hope you’re also enjoying all of the beauty that Fall has to offer. Here on the East Coast the weather is changing, the mornings, days and evenings are cooler forcing us to break out the Fall gear, including cute scarves and fashionable boots. This is also the time of year that we tend to gravitate toward heavier foods. Since we’re in the midst of a change in season, I thought it was a good time dust off the keyboard to discuss how we can adapt our healthy eating regimen to include foods that are currently in season. All of this made me think of carbohydrates and the excessive consumption that traditionally takes place over the next few months. Carbs can become a real issue for many during this time of year because as the temps drop and the holidays draw closer, many tend to turn to high calorie, high carbohydrate, comfort foods, such as breads, pizzas, pastas, baked goods and additional sugars. These types of foods can not only lead to excessive weight gain, but also the potential for exasperating symptoms of many chronic conditions such as asthma, eczema, diabetes, chronic pain & inflammatory conditions such as Ankylosing Spondylitis, chronic pain conditions such as Fibromyalgia and the numerous symptoms relating to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, among other conditions.

I believe it’s fairly common knowledge even among the healthiest of people, that an overindulgence in carbohydrates and processed foods can lead to health problems, so naturally this becomes more of a concern among the many people who battle chronic illnesses.  We are the group who should pay extra special attention to what we eat, how our bodies process these types of foods and how they affect our symptoms. Many people don’t want the burden of adjusting their diets.  After all, food not only provides sustenance, it’s a way of celebrating life, entertaining with family and friends and its also a means for socializing, so it’s no secret that eating your favorite foods offers a fair amount of enjoyment and emotional satisfaction, which is where the idea of “comfort food” stems.  However many who live with debilitating and painful conditions do not have this luxury.  We must be careful to avoid buying into the brain washing that many of us have fallen victim to at some point in our lives, and that’s the idea that medication is a “magic bullet” and it is all that we’ll ever need to fight our symptoms and keep ourselves healthy. If you are on medication your body is already working hard enough to break down and distribute this foreign substance, so its best to eat healing foods that will help strengthen your body, rather than filling your stomach with foods which force the body to work harder. All while taking the place of vital nutrients, that you are quite possibly loosing due to malabsorption issues associated with your chronic invisible illness.  “Food is very powerful. Consuming the right foods can be incredibly healing to our bodies, but eating too much of the wrong types of food can easily lead to our premature, yet slow and even painful demise.”  If you are a healthy person be grateful and don’t take it for granted, because it could  all change in an instant.  It’s been my job for so many years to educate people about food, healthy eating, the prevention of aging related diseases and most recently how to manage the symptoms of many chronic invisible illnesses naturally and holistically, so I direct this post to those who would like to take control of their health, by taking control of their diets, as apart of a “whole body” approach to living a healthy lifestyle.

Dangers of Overindulging in Simple Carbs, High Glycemic & High Starch Foods:

All carbohydrates are not bad. In fact, the quality of carbohydrates is actually what matters most. Carbohydrates are divided into two categories, simple carbs and complex carbs. Complex carbs are best and when eating simple carbs it must be done so in moderation, because overindulgence can wreak havoc on the body. Simple carbs consist of high glycemic foods which increase serum levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) a marker of systemic inflammation, which would naturally effect chronic inflammatory conditions such Ankylosing Spondylitis & other forms of autoimmune arthritis. These high glycemic foods also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and if you are obese or even simply overweight due to excessive simple carb consumption, you’re increasing these risk factors even more. Complex carbs or lower dietary glycemic foods provide more of a sustained blood glucose level and lower insulin demands on the pancreas. The pancreas aids in digestion and controls blood sugar.  If the pancreas and adrenal glands are constantly overworked due to consistent high glucose levels, this can not only contribute to adrenal fatigue & chronic fatigue in a healthy person, but it will without question exacerbate the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also known as Chronic Fatigue & Immune Dysfunction Syndrome  (CFS/CFIDS/ME) along with other conditions which cause fatigue, such as the many forms of autoimmune arthritis.  This can also lead to digestive disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, while worsening symptoms of irritable Bowel Disease. Poor diet combined with regular medication usage significantly increase these risks. Good carbs or low-glycemic index foods delay the return of hunger, decrease subsequent food intake, and increases the sense of feeling full and as a result helps one to control their weight. Focusing on healing, whole foods and a diet which contains lower dietary glycemic foods and minimal amounts of sugar/starches will help to minimize symptoms of many chronic invisible illnesses, as well as preventable diseases such as Hypoglycemia, adult-onset Diabetes, Cardiovascular disease, Obesity, Gallbladder disease to mention a few.

Steps Toward Success:

• Decreaes your consumption of starchy high-glycemic index foods like potatoes, white rice, and white bread
• Decrease your consumption of sugary foods like cookies, cakes, candy, and soft-drinks

•Increase your consumption of whole foods, real food in lieu of fast foods and eat balanced amouts of lean protein if you eat meat

Some Good Traditional Complex Carbs/Low-Gylcemic Index Foods for Healthy People:

whole grains, nuts, legumes, fruits, and non-starchy vegetables (no rice, corn, potatoes etc.)

Some Good Low-Starch, Non-GMO, Whole Food, Real Food & SuperFood Options & Substitutes for those with AS, CFS, Fibro & IBS:

• Try Sprouted Ezekiel Bread in place of white bread

• Try zucchini strands in place of pasta

• Add lots of low-starch, nutrient dense, organic vegetables in place of large amounts of starchy high-glycemic index foods, such as: Romaine Lettuce, Radishes, Avocado, Sprouts, Napa Cabbage, Kale, Spinach, Chard, Bok Choy, Snow Pea Pods, Green Beans, Leeks, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Asparagus, Summer squash, Red, Green & Yellow Bell Peppers, Artichokes, etc.

• Make good use of fresh herbs,  flavorful ingredients & seasonings such as: Lemon, Lime, Garlic, Ginger, Onions, Cilantro, Parsley, Basil, Thyme, Scallions, Organic Balsamic Vinegar, Brown Mustard, Fresh Salsa. etc.

• Drink water, coconut water, fresh fruit smoothies, freshly squeezed juices and herbal teas in place of soft drinks and other high calorie drinks

• Eat fresh & dehydrated fruit such as; oranges, plums, berries, pears, apples, grapes etc., in place of cakes, cookies, ice cream and candy. You must still be mindful of eating sweets in moderation, just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean it’s ok to in excess. Remember balance is key.

• Eat healthy snacks dried or roasted seaweed snacks, almonds, seeds, chia, raw caco, dried mulberries, etc.

• Cook at home, prepare meals in advance and get creative! By eating at home you are automatically reducing your daily sodium consumption and daily calorie intake.

MythBusters:

“Eating this way will not fill me up” When taking on this lifestyle change, take baby steps. Start by reducing, then replacing NOT immediately eliminating. For example reduce the number of meals each day that contain simple carbs, if you have a high carb breakfast do no repeat this for lunch & dinner. When you get to the “replacement” stage, you could replace your white bread with Ezekiel bread (made from sprouted grains), replace butter with Organic Cold Pressed Olive Oil, replace pasta with zucchini strands and make your own salad dressings from scratch. Start your day with fruit and eat several small meals each day. Eat several small meals and be sure that you do not reduce your calorie intake below 1200 calories a day, 1500 if you’re very active.  Yes, you’ll count calories for a few days, but you’ll eventually have the feel for how much food you’ll need to consume to stay full and remain healthy.  At dinner make sure your plate has far more veggies than meat and when eating meat, make sure its lean and antibiotic free. If you have Ankylosing Spondylitis or FIbro & CFS which can react adversely carbohydrates, you might need to also reduce intake of even certain types of complex carbs such as grains, thus gravitating toward more of a low-starch eating regimen. Give it time, both your mind and body will adjust. Also exercise and drink lots of water. Get plenty of rest and supplement when needed. In addition, when you’re eating whole foods, you’ll find that you’ll have less cravings, because you’re body’s nutrient requirements are actually being met.

“Eating this way will not cure my disease so why bother?” Diets, foods and drinks don’t cure disease, especially autoimmune diseases, but when eating the right foods you can prevent the onset of certain types of disease especially those that are age related. In addition, eating healthier can also help to reduce certain symptoms of many chronic conditions.

“In order to eat low-carb or low-starch, I have to eat excessive amounts of meat.” No, not at all and in fact most Americans eat far more protein than their bodies truly need. Protein consumption will vary from person to person based upon their weight and level of daily activity. A 130 lb woman who engages in moderate daily exercise would require only 88 grams of protein daily and that’s divided over several meals. A 160 lb man who exercises regularly, including strength training would require only 108 grams of protein daily. Someone who does not engage in regular exercise would have less protein demands.

low-carb and low-starch are the basis of many fad “diets” however, that does not invalidate the effectiveness of this way of eating. That’s because there are many conditions that benefit from a reduction of simple carbs and even some complex carbs. I do not endorse or promote fad “diets” or a book written by some guru. I do however recommend a lifestyle change to my clients based on their specific needs.  Diets fail, but lifestyle changes that include a healthy eating regimen, exercise and whole body wellness are incredibly effective with the ability to last indefinitely.  Feel free to use this post a guide  and whatever dietary changes you decide to make, be sure that its healthy and that you’re taking in the proper amounts of daily calories, also that you’re getting all of your required vitamins and minerals. Balance out your healthy eating regimen with exercise and most importantly maintain a positive mental attitude!

Here’s to living Chronically, happy, healthy fit & fab!!

Kale Chips Recipe

I absolutely love kale and consume this amazing green leafy vegetable in many forms, from green drinks and salads to side dishes and even dehydrated in the form of chips!! If you’ve never had the opportunity to try Kale Chips, then this is the perfect time! It’s June, farm stands are open and organic kale is in abundance.

Kale is a member of the cabbage family. It’s high in phytonutrients, fiber, vitamins A , C  & K and provides many healing benefits.  Including anti-inflammatory & cancer fighting properties. Kale comes in many varieties including: Cavolo Nero which is also known as  black kale, dinosaur kale, dragon tongue, lacinato & tuscan kale.  Scotch Kale which has gray-green leaves that are crumpled and curled on the edges. Plain Leaved Kale, which is blue-green in color with long thin leaves. Leaf and Spear Kale which is a hybrid of curly leaved and plain leaved kale. Rape Kale also known as hungry gap kale, because kale is plentiful during the winter season. Another of the curly leaved variety is Red Russian Kale, also known as Ragged Jack Kale, Buda Kale and Fearing Kale, it’s purplish in color with red veins and has more of a jagged edge to its leaves.

When selecting kale look for moist leaves that look fresh, crisp, bright  in color and tender. Avoid wilted leaves that appear dry or yellow because they lack nutritional value.  Dehydrating Kale is a great nutritional replacement for high calorie, high sodium potato chips and other unhealthy snacks. Dehydrating ~vs~ baking is a great way to preserve ever important nutrients and enzymes, while creatively increasing your intake of whole foods.  Having plenty of Kale Chips on hand is a great way of eating fresh kale on the go, at any time.

There are many ways to prepare Kale Chips using various spices and ingredients such as; cashews, paprika, thyme, garlic, nutritional yeast (for a cheezy flavor) cayenne pepper and even chili pepper. I enjoy experimenting with many of these variations, but my favorite is the very simple recipe below:

Ingredients: (2-4) bunches of Scotch Kale , (2) Tbls Olive Oil & (1) Tbls of Bragg Liquid Aminos  (2) Tbls Lemon Juice (1) Tsp of Sesame Seeds (or) Flax Seeds

Step 1) Remove Stems & Any Thick Veins.

Step 2) Rinse & spin dry or gently pat dry kale leaves.

Step 3) Rip into nice bite size pieces and not to small, because kale will shrink during dehydration.

Step 4) Place in bowel and……

Step 4)  Toss with olive oil, Bragg Liquid Aminos, seeds & lemon juice.

Step 5) Place coated kale on dehydrator sheets or lined cookie sheets & dehydrate for 6-8 hours or bake on 100°F-115°F for approximately 2-hours. After 1-hour in the oven be sure to rotate the Kale Chips so they’ll dehydrate evenly.

NOTE: Low & warm settings vary from oven to oven. Some ovens temps settings will not go below 130°F-140°F at which point you’re simply baking your Kale Chips and not dehydrating them. Though still a very healthy snack, some vital nutrients are lost when green leafy vegetables are cooked. If you can not set your oven temp low enough for dehydration and you are “eating for healing” then you might consider investing in a food dehydrator with a temperature setting. If you still prefer to bake your Kale Chips, set your oven at 350°F and bake for 10-15 min.

Voilà! Kale Chips….Enjoy!

This recipe is also vegan & raw vegan friendly. Still have lots of kale left over? Check out The Positive Pear’s other recipes using kale: Nutritional, Gluten-Free, Diary-Free, Low-Starch & Inflammation Friendly Recipes

Enjoy Summer-Eat Healthy Fruit While Reducing Pain and Inflammation

This is a fun time of year because it’s not only easier for people to make healthier food choices, it’s easy to find fun, healthy foods. Have you checked out your local farmers markets and food co-ops? If not, this is a great time to locate those nearest in preparation for your summer food shopping. A fun, easy and very healthy food to begin with is “fruit” it’s sweet, delicious and easy on the digestive system. Which is good for those who battle digestive issues such as IBS and IBDs. We’re less likely to crave comfort foods this time of year, so consuming more fruit is a great way to begin our day and a great way to wrap it up, by eating nice healthy fruit filled desserts. Fruit has incredible healing benefits, offering enzymes, healthy carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and cancer fighting tannins & flavonoids. For us Ankylosing Spondylitis & Autoimmune Arthritis Sufferers, fruit also offers amazing anti-inflammatory properties, while reducing pain and swelling. According to the Article: Inflammation and Foods That Fight via Arthritis Today, it is very important to consume a variety of colorful, fresh fruits and vegetables routinely for best results.  This is one of many steps toward achieving and maintaining a healthy “holistic” lifestyle. By eating fruit we reduce inflammation, pain and swelling, while increasing energy levels and wellness.  We also reduce the likelihood of developing age-related and degenerative diseases such as certain types of cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.  We also enjoy the added benefit of improving skin appearance, our moods and mental sharpness. Some of my favorite anti-inflammatory & low-glycemic fruits are: berries, cherries, apples, pineapple, grapefruit, kiwi, plums & of course pears. What is your favorite fruit? Enjoy your summer even more by adding healthy, delicious fruit to your diet!

Natural Anti-Inflammatory, Vegan Friendly & Gluten-Free: Roasted Seaweed Snack!

When I talk about healthy gluten-free snacks I can’t help but rave about one of my all time favorites and that’s the Roasted Seaweed Snack by Trader Joes. These small paper-thin snacks are only 30 calories while offering only 2 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein and 50 mg of sodium.  If you are now thinking, “why on earth would I ever want to eat seaweed” then consider its incredible healing benefits. Seaweed is packed full of Amino Acids, ionic and trace Minerals plus Vitamins, most specifically Vitamins A, B and C. It also contains Beta-Carotene and Iodine, essential for Myelin production which helps to combat symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) by nourishing the mitochondria.  Seaweed also contains high amounts of Iron, Calcium, and Fiber, along with the non-essential amino acid Taurine, which is great for alertness and mental clarity.  Incredibly beneficial to those who suffer from *Fibro Fog, memory issues and depression. It also aids in bile production which helps with digestion. Seaweed is also instrumental in naturally lowering cholesterol levels which is essential to heart health. This wonderful super food also has antiviral and antibacterial properties, as well as an abundance of anti-inflammatory properties.  Proving very beneficial to those with chronic inflammatory conditions such as Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS).

Seaweed also contains Selenium, Collagen, Asparagine, Boron, Bioflavonoids and Antioxidants. When you eat this amazing little snack, you are strengthening your hair, bones, teeth, gums and connective tissue, while improving your thyroid, eyes and skin.  You are also sharpening your brain, removing toxins from your body such as mercury, lead and heavy metals, while helping your body to fight infection, colds, flu, allergies, and other respiratory problems.  In addition to lowering your risks of breast and prostate cancer. Trader Joe’s Roasted Seaweed Snack is vegan-friendly and a great substitution for chips and other high calorie, high sodium snacks. Plus, there is no need to swim to the bottom of the ocean to enjoy this tasty little snack.  They are packaged nicely, sold at your local Trader Joe’s and are very reasonably priced at only $.99. They also travel well for eating on the go and they are quite addicting, so be sure to stock up!

Great packaging, opens easily and travels well. Roasted seaweed remains fresh and in tact.

Beautiful snacks which you can serve on a plate or in the included plastic container. They tend to absorb moisture rather quickly, so be careful of leaving them out for too long.  Especially in humid climates, or you’ll risk losing the crunchiness which is their appeal.

Paper thin, filling and incredibly delicious!

If you like a little kick be sure to try their mouth blowing Wasabi Roasted Seaweed Snack. I like spicy, but one bite of this flavor was all that I could take.  I will say it’s worth trying and if you can’t handle the heat revisit the idea of the original flavor.

Berry, Berry Dairy-Free Smoothie

1/2 Cup of Frozen Blueberries

1/2 Cup of Fresh Blueberries

1/2 Cup of Frozen or Fresh Strawberries

1/4 Cup of Fresh or Frozen Raspberries

1 1/2 Cup of Zico Coconut Water

1/2 cup of crushed ice for a thicker smoothie

3 Tbsp of Nutiva Organic Shelled Hemp Seed

This recipe might vary slight depending on your blender.  If you have a high-powered blender proceed by tossing in all ingredients, if not you might need to premix ingredients or add additional liquid. High powered blenders can easily crush ice while blending whole foods, whereas other blenders might require you to pre-crush ice prior to adding.

Completely optional: Nutiva Organic Shelled Hemp Seed is a great way to add protein to your smoothie, with only 2g of carbs it is very low-carb & low-starch diet friendly.