Family gets Creative with Sweet, Savory, Artisan nuts

Image

A few days ago my boyfriend decided to venture out of his stuffy, cramped, box-like office to enjoy the glorious sunshine and explore the aromas of the newly opened farmers markets’ brimming with goodies for the local hipsters. I, on the other hand, was laboriously studying away when an email popped up asking me to write about a company known as Q’s Nuts, a local, family-owned artisan nut company created by a husband and wife, (last name Quinn aka “Q”), in 2000.

Ironically, later that night when the BF came come, he carried with him a small bag with a “surprise,” he beamed. As I peeled back the folded up bag, anxiously awaiting what this surprise could be, I pulled out three little packages all with the label “Q’s Nuts!” Fate has a funny way of intervening sometimes. I therefore bring to you a personal account of my experience with this creative company who has nuts in a variety of flavors from sweet to savory to downright quirky. The bags I currently own include Bananas Foster almonds, Chocolate Coconut almonds, and Rosemary Sea Salt Cashews. Some other neat flavors include Cayenne Mango, Key Lime Ginger, and Chocolate Raspberry. And these are only a few of the over 20 flavors that they carry! I can honestly say it’s like an explosion of wholesome deliciousness in your mouth. I am a huge lover of Q’s Nuts, because not only are they creative, but they consistently source from out of Boston, with many local farmers. The herbs that they use for their nuts, like the rosemary sea salt cashews, are sourced from local farms when in season.

Image

Q’s Nut’s philosophy is simple and pure: “wholesome ingredients, a love of good food, and a passion for creating in the kitchen that creates some of the best tasting roasts around.”

You can find and sample Q’s Nuts at the Hyper-Local Brew, as they were given the opportunity to roast pecans for a local brewer to use in a porter and you can bet they will have most of their flavor varieties!

Not able to make the event? No worries! You can buy Q’s nuts online here as well as at many select stores throughout the Boston area, which can also be found on their website. They also have a brick and mortar location in Somerville, open most days of the week.

So get out there and get your protein, fiber, and healthy fats in a scrumptious way with Q’s Nuts!

Advertisements

Be a Lean Mean Eating Clean Machine

No more excuses. It’s practically bikini time/beach season and that means Spring Cleaning! For our bods that is. Especially after consuming 50 grams of pure sugar yesterday, I know I’m being super cautious about what I ingest these next few weeks. After such an indulgent day (not intentionally of course), a cleanse might seem the appropriate way to go. And, with a plethora of options around Boston, I could easily choose one of the popular JUICE CLEANSES. But, as a soon to be RD, I think I’ll take the smarter route.

I know you’re shaking your head in disagreement and vying for a bottle of that touted healthy juice right now, but don’t leave me just yet. It seems only natural that we should cleanse since we are constantly overwhelmed with toxins daily, right? Kinnnnddaaaa. You see, we have this wonderful system known as our liver, kidney, and colon that do just a fine job ridding the body of waste and toxins. Advocates for cleanses claim that our bodies cannot cleanse fast enough to keep up with the copious amounts of toxins in our system. And while juices or cleanses contains a variety of nutrients, there often is a lack of fiber and protein needed to maintain muscle mass and support a healthy colon.

Conclusion: The best cleanse for your body is a diet that is well-balanced and that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables. When you eat whole nutritious foods, you allow your body to function optimally. And, while juices can be a great complement to a solid food diet in that they can aid in the obtainment of adequate F+V, a 3-day cleanse won’t perform magic on your body and will leave you groggy, grouchy, irritable, and dehydrated. You will also lose muscle mass due to lack of protein, which is what ignites our metabolism, leading to unavoidable weight gain once solid food is ingested again.

A better bet: Eat clean

If you  still feel like a cleanse is necessary try cutting out all refined grains, sugars, processed foods, and limit meat. Stick to fish, eggs, fruits, and vegetables (blended as a juice or whole!), but try to get some fiber in there.

A couple of guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Eat real food instead of drinking liquids only
  • Avoid laxatives and detox supplements
  • Maximize your calories with natural, whole foods
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Be active
  • Aim for at least 1,000 calories a day

Looking to get started? Take a peek into a few of my all-time favorite foods

ImageSMARI pure icelandic yogurt has to be hands down one of my faves! 20g of protein, organic sugar (Nothing artificial here!) and only 6g of sugar for the plain yogurt. Yah yah yah the vanilla has quite a lot of sugar but at least it is from organic sugar and I never eat a whole one of these at once.

ImageThey finally did it. They made a probiotic yogurt with Kefir! You see I love kefir in its drinkable bottle form, but now that I can also get these good fo you bacteria in dessert form, you betcha I’ll be switching over! Nothing spells CLEAN like some probiotics.

ImageStone Ground wheat crackers (yay for not being celiac). I was on a hunt to discover an all natural low fiber cracker for my SIBO test and stumbled upon this delicious product. (Can get at Whole Foods) Great if you want an unrefined carb!

ImageLast but not least dark choco PB- okay so maybe not the “cleanest” food but dark chocolate is good for the heart and goes marvelously with PB- plus it IS all-natural!

Of course these foods should merely be an addition to all of the fruits and veggies that you will and should be getting in your diet to “cleanse” your system and get on track to better health!

What the docs aren’t telling you #Bacterial Overgrowth

29183-w940

About 5 years ago I received a diagnosis of “IBS.” Or what I call “the go to diagnosis when we can’t figure out what is going on in your GI tract.” I was tested for celiac- negative, tested for nutrient deficiencies- negative, and lastly tested for acid reflux- negative. Ughhhhh was all that I could proclaim when I KNEW that something else was going on inside this body of mine. At first, I was pretty liberal with what I ate, except dairy, relishing the moments when I could carry out my daily activities of living and dreading the agonizing pain that would consume my entire digestive tract from time to time.

However, only recently has this pain become an overwhelming indomitable agitator, that appears at least 1-2 times a week, leading me to remain bed ridden during its most awful attacks, or incapable of food consumption during its less ferocious days. In all honesty I live with pain on a day to day basis but have kind of gotten to the point where I am able to ignore it, living life with slight uncomfortableness and a bottle of tums on hand at all times.

I think the most aggravating thing is forcing yourself to eat when you’re never hungry or dreading eating because of the fear of pain. Since IBS and digestive problems can be due to a number of things, I just figured there was no solution and that I would never figure out what was causing my tummy issues. That is until I found out about SIBO.

That’s right..a little known thing that your GI docs fail to get you tested for..small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. It wasn’t until working with a GI RD specialist that I really looked into this further. IBS and SIBO have practically the same exact symptoms, which is why it can be hard to decipher the two.

Now, you are probably wondering what the heck SIBO is so let me fill you in. SIBO is a result of excessive bacteria in the small intestine and is reported to occur in 80% of those with IBS! It can also occur in those with disorders of the immune system, celiac disease, as well as acid reflux, amongst a host of other causes. It is confirmed using a hydrogen breath test as excess bacteria=excess gas production. Oftentimes the hydrogen test tests for malabsorption of carbohydrates as these lead to bacterial overgrowth when not digested properly.

So, this thursday I will be undergoing a SIBO test specifically for lactose and fructose malabsorption.If I am diagnosed with fructose malabsorption, one of the many possible causes of my IBS, I will need to follow a FODMAPs diet, which means a group of short-chain fermentable carbohydrates that essentially lead to bacterial growth in the gut. 

The downside,FODMAPs are often found in plant-based foods, including vegetables, fruits, grains and legumes, some of the healthiest foods out there!

According to one RD,

“The bacteria in your intestines can “eat” these FODMAPs. The problem is that bacteria eat by fermenting nutrients. The fermentation of these short-chain fermentable carbohydrates results in the production of a lot of different types of gas produced in your gut. These large volumes of gas trapped in your intestines are responsible for the bloating and gas, while the pressure they create induces abdominal discomfort, pain and cramping.”

“On top of that, having small unabsorbed carbohydrates such as the FODMAPs staying in your gut attracts a lot of water from your body into your intestines by a process called osmosis. For some people, this extra water present in the gut cause extra bloating and abdominal distension, with the accompanying discomfort, pain or cramping, as well as watery diarrhea.”

Basically I have a micro-brewery in my gut
but gas produced cannot escape leading to immense pain. 

Because foods such asparagus, honey, and watermelon all irritate my gut and are all high in fructose (they have a much higher fructose to glucose ratio), I am being tested for fructose malabsorption. What does this mean?

Well, fructose is a monosaccharide and if I have fructose malabsorption, I basically don’t have enough of the Glut5 transporters needed help me absorb fructose.

Result: the unabsorbed fructose is fermented in my gut. FUNNNNN

A low FODMAP’S diet can help to reduce these high fructose foods from my diet hence alleviating my pain.

With that being said, I think this test is worth looking into if you experience symptoms from eating any of the foods on the FODMAP diet- which can be found here

I’ll let you know how Thursday goes!

Anyone out there also suffering from digestive issues and getting fed up?

 

Whittling Waistlines with Protein Pancake Heaven

Image

My typical go-to breakfast consists of DD eggs and ham with a medium coconut coffee (1 splenda please!). Simple, packed with protein, and oh so yummy. Sometimes though, you need a good pancake for breakfast. And this morning was one of those days. But, of course, many (including myself) are faced with the dilemma of creating a pancake that is both nutritious and delicious. Some people can scarf down a whole stack of flapjacks and still looking phenomenal. Yup, not me. I eat a stack with a drizzle of light syrup and end up looking like an oompa loompa (as I often tell my bf). It makes me slightly bitter and I’m super jealous of others who can shove cokes down their throat and not gain a pound but such is life I suppose. I therefore stick with eating paleo with a twist and one sunny morning I made it my mission to create a “paleoesque” pancake.

You might be asking: Soooo, how does one make such a carb loaded, insulin spiking breakfast less damaging on the waist?

If you love a pancake that is easy to make, high in protein, tastes indulgent, but is also nutritious, this pancake is definitely for you! It has a nice texture and I love the way the warm blueberries pop in my mouth.

Protein Packed Blueberry Pancakes (Each contains roughly 6-8g protein!)

I apologize ahead of time as I often don’t measure I just kind of make recipes up as I go so this recipe unfortunately will not have all of the ingredient amounts

1C almond flour

1/4 cup (not even!) Trader Joes Pumpkin Pancake/Waffle mix for a nice spicy flavor

1 egg

1/4 Cup EVOO (can also use coconut oil)

1 Scoop Chocolate protein powder

Handful of blueberries

1 packet truvia

1 TBSP almond butter

dash cinnamon

Image

Mix it all up and pour into the pan to make pancakes! Cook on low to medium heat. Typically takes about 3-5 min to cook. 

Image

DELICIOUS! Give it a try and let me know whatcha think! (p.s. a touch of vanilla extract is also a tasty addition)

Dietary Strategies to Health

Now that I am officially out my internship, I have more time (for now) to dedicate posts to nutrition and health info..yay! So, I decided to dedicate this particular one on dietary strategies for success.

The Bad News: It’s not what you think

The Good News: You will have gained a plethora of information and usefulness

I should preface this by giving credit to my inspiration “The Institute for the Psychology of Eating,” as their article (By Marc David) “5 steps to make people eat exactly what you want,” is what inspired this post. 

So, let me get started. 

1) Seek out dietary professionals…aka knowledge and education..not information.

I recently attended a Wellness Retreat and while there were a lot of great health professionals there, there were also a lot of incorrect nutrition jargon and misinformation thrown around. The simple solution: seek out those who have at least 4 years of schooling in nutrition coupled with a dietetic internship to impart their wisdom as opposed to Google’s or “health coaches” information. Everyone’s nutrition needs are different and the only way to ensure that your needs will be met with evidence based answers and solutions coupled with empathetic counseling and MNT is through the help of an RD.

2) Add passion

Both as a nutritional professional and a client, passion is needed to succeed. If you don’t have passion as a professional, how do you expect to impart passion onto your client and if you, as a client, do not have a passion for your own health, how in the world do you ever expect to get on track?

As Marc David, founder of the Psychology of Eating would put it, “Nutrition information delivered without passion is like eating a meal absent of any flavor.”

3) Honor your body no matter what you eat

I have come across too many people who obsesses over every morsel they consume. Whether what we are currently consuming is super healthy or completely sucks, it’s important to be mindful when eating, paying attention to hunger/fullness cues, and enjoying our food, honoring ourselves and our body in the moment and in our food choices. We will most often need to forgive ourselves at times but also allow ourselves the simple joys of life  and food. I know I struggle with respecting what other people choose to put on their plate, but I am realizing how important it is to respect how others decide to nourish themselves and to provide help, knowledge, and support when it is sought out. Not everyone will seek out good nutrition for various reasons as there are often bigger issues to leading a nutritious lifestyle, and it is my job to figure out what is driving the way individuals choose to eat, whether good, bad, restrictive, or not. At the end of the day, I can’t tell them what to eat, I can only impart them with the knowledge that I know, if incorporated into their lifestyle, will be of benefit to their bodies. But regardless if they choose to follow my advice, I hope they take away the message to strive to honor their health and bodies every single day and respect themselves.Image

I agree with Marc when he says “I believe if we’re going to tell others how to eat better, then our dietary advice has real nutritional value when it’s more than just about food.”

The Sinclair: Vegas and Paradise for the Boston Brunchers

On a bright sunny afternoon, two sundays ago, also known as cinco de mayo, a group of dedicated foodies met up for brunch in the heart of Harvard Square, at THE SINCLAIR. I am not too familiar with the Harvard Square area or their various restaurants, so this was my VERY FIRST experience indulging at one of the many hidden gems HS has to offer. And boy will I definitely come back.

Upon arrival we were immediately taken up to their adorable outdoor patio area, which considering the city was abuzz with the festivities of cinco de mayo, was pleasantly serene. Mind you, this was my second Boston Brunchers event so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was delighted to see new faces and can honestly say I enjoyed this experience much better than the last at THE FIREPLACE. I was seated next to  Gluten Free Boston Girl who I enjoyed getting to know as we engaged in talk of nutrition and health and kambucha parties 😉 ( a new fave topic of mine)

After we were all settled in, we were greeted with a Mimosa flightImageThe Orchard pear being my favorite of the three! But seriously how cute! Not one, not two, but 3 cocktails! And what a great way to wet our appetites and ensure that we liked their food ( jk jk…it would have been delicious without all of the alcohol).

Next we were served a Virginia Oyster with pink peppercorn.ImageI adore oysters so this was a perfectly copacetic way to begin my brunch experience.

It was complemented with a Smoked Pork Belly Bloody Mary made with house vodka and Bloody Mary mix. The pork belly did have a nice smoky flavor to it and complemented the bloody mary quite well. Unfortunately, I hate bloody mary’s and this particular one did not woo me. It was a tad too salty for my liking, which I suppose is to be expected with this drink.

A brunch is not complete without a soup of course!  So we were then served an asparagus soup with parmesan shavings on top. The Sinclair is certainly not stingy when it comes to portion sizes and ingredients. The soup was more than a generous amount! I was also pleasantly surprised that it was not too creamy and I was actually able to tolerate it quite well!ImageThe brunch continued on with a delicious SMOKED SALMON with pickled chilies, capers, and truffle oil. I am crazy about truffle oil, so you can imagine my excitement when this dish was presented with one of my all time favorite ingredients.

IMG_2983

Of course, at this point, it was time for another drink, so we were appreciative to be served a light and refreshing grapefruit and soda cocktail known as THE TIGER LILY. ImageI am not much of a drinker, so it was delightful to have a drink that was light and not too “alcoholy.”

It was at this point that not only was I starting to get tipsy but also incredible full. Of course what came next was not to be missed, as it was another one of my fave dishes. Fried Calamari with Tom Yun Gai sauce.  The squid was nice and crunchy, just how I like it and the thai sauce was a perfect complement. Absolutely scrumptious! ImageThe sauce was not super spicy (hardly at all!) and to my surprise, Gluten Free Boston Girl asked if it was GF, AND IT WAS! So to all you GF people out there dying to eat some calamari, hit up THE SINCLAIR.

Last but not least, Duck Confit over Vegetable Hash. Duck confit seems to be a popular menu item in Boston I am coming to realize, as it was also served at my last BB event. Even though I was completely stuffed at this point, I made sure to have a few bites of this delectable dish. The colors for spring were full and bright and really brought the dish together. Duck confit is pretty colorless so you will, and should, often find it served with colorful foods. But, I absolutely loved this particular presentation and how it was served with a veggie hash as opposed to a salad of some sort. Definitely an admirable, creative take on bfast hash!ImageIf all BB events were like this, I’d be sure to attend each and every one of them. I was not quite sure what to expect as, at The Fireplace, we each ordered our own separate meals, which was fine, but I much preferred receiving a sampling of many of the items on The Sinclair menu. They really made sure to highlight some of their best dishes, and it reminded me a lot of my experience in Vegas. The waitstaff was super attentive (they kept refilling my water glass right away, which I drink a ton of water and it was a hot day, so this was super important to me and obviously recognized). Our waiters made sure to explain each dish in detail and also engaged in conversation with us, asking us about our blogs and what we do. I also loved  the adorable outdoor patio, the creative and fresh dishes, the sampling of menu items, and of course getting to socialize with all of the Brunchers! I can’t wait to revisit this modern american restaurant soon!

The Sinclair= Vegas and paradise 🙂

Note: Due to my being a member of the Boston Brunchers, I was provided this meal free of charge by The Sinclair, but my opinions are completely my own.