Many of my clients choose oatmeal as a breakfast option every day, sometimes I hear they get bored of the spices and flavorings. There is so so much that you can do to add variety to this breakfast staple.
One of the more recent options clients have been trying is adding a tbsp or two of peanut butter in oatmeal. It's a great way of adding some protein and gives it a rich and creamy texture. If you are like me you may be missing the pie flavors from last week so check out this apple pie oatmeal for a yummy breakfast option
1 medium apple, cored and roughly chopped
1/4 cup apple juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoons maple syrup
Pinch of salt
1 cup rolled oats
1 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk (or your milk of choice)
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (or any nut)
Combine the apple, apple juice, vanilla, cinnamon, all spice, maple syrup, and salt in a small pot over high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the apples are soft and the juice has reduced by about half, 4 to 5 minutes. They should slightly caramelize.
Add the remaining ingredients — and turn the heat to medium-high. The mixture should smell great by this point.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the oats are cooked and the mixture is thick. Serve immediately.
Diabetes is one of the greatest public health epidemics of modern history and for the vast majority of individuals it is completely preventable with diet and exercise. Reducing body weight, increasing exercise, and eating a well-balanced diet without extra calories are some of the easiest ways to lower your risk factors for diabetes. If you have borderline blood sugar, or your A1C(a lab that gives a snapshot of the last 90 days blood sugar levels) is creeping up close to 6, it is time to start considering some lifestyle changes. There are also some supplements that can help improve blood glucose control for those with numbers creeping up- without having to move to pharmaceutical drugs.
This is one of the oldest known spices and remains a favorite in many cultures even today. There are two main types of cinnamon cassia and ceylon.
Here are some benefits of cinnamon: The essential oil contained in cinnamon has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and can prevent platelets from clumping together. It is also a powerful antimicrobial. It is also a source of fiber, iron, calcium and manganese. But, most importantly for this article it can help with blood sugar control.
What does the research support: In a study of volunteers eating 1-6 grams of cinnamon daily for 40 days showed cholesterol cut by 18% and blood sugar levels down by 24%. There was also a powerful review article of clinical trials by Allen et al in 2013 that showed cinnamon is associated with a significant decrease in fasting blood sugar, total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, but not A1C levels.
How much to take: The preferred dose and duration of therapy is not clear, but the good news is that cinnamon is relatively safe when consumed at a dose of a few grams per day. No significant adverse events have been reported. 1 tsp of powdered cinnamon is about 4 grams. You can safely add cinnamon into recipes to increase your intake and take advantage of it’s benefits.
Ideas include: adding to smoothies, oatmeal, granola, applesauce, curries, soups, even tomato sauce (helps cut the acid flavor).
This is a relative to the more familiar sweet basil most use in cooking. In Ayurvedic medicine and Chinese Medicine it holds great status. It is known as the queen of herbs in ancient India.
Here are some of the benefits of Holy Basil: It has many specific uses for helping with coughs, colds, fevers, and stomach aches. It has powerful anti-oxidant activity, protects the liver and is classified as an adaptogen (reduces effects of stress on the body). And of note for this post: it helps manage blood sugar.
What does the research support: Preliminary trials of holy basil leaves and hairy basil seeds have shown these herbs may help with type 2 diabetes blood sugar levels. An uncontrolled study of 1,000 mg per day of holy basil showed lower blood sugar levels, lower LDL and triglycerides. A controlled study tested 2,500 mg per day and found similar changes in blood sugar. While, the mechanism of action is not completely understood it is believed the herb promotes optimal pancreatic function.
How much to take: The preferred dose would be near 1000 mg per day of holy basil leaf extract. This is one I would recommend taking the supplement form as the spice is more difficult to source in the US and would take a good amount of it added to recipes to get the daily value.
There are other herbs and minerals that support healthy blood sugar control including: magnesium, chromium, prickly pear cactus, gymnema sylvestre, and inositol. Depending on what additional health issues you may have, your diet, or other medications you are taking there may be indications to choose one of these options over the other. That is why working with a Dietitian can be so helpful. These herbs and supplements may be helpful, however nothing will be more effective than changing diet and lifestyle factors.
Science and evidence-based practice is the foundation of any good practitioner. So many people see a family member or a friend experience positive changes in their health and immediately they want to know what they did, how they did it, how long it took, and how can they get their own hands on this same solution. The problem with the bandwagon mentality is that every individual’s body is different. Even identical twins have a unique microbiome, environmental differences, behavioral differences, diet history differences, I could go on, but I trust you are understanding. Because a friend lost weight eating paleo does not necessarily mean you will too. The friend whose acne cleared up after cutting out dairy does not mean yours will too. The friend who cut gluten out and experienced better sleep does not give a scientific basis for you to experience the same effect with the same change.
While I believe there are very true, time tested tenants: Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food (Hippocrates), this can be a difficult thing to practice without guidance, if you do not know the root of the problem. For instance, an individual with restless leg syndrome and difficulty sleeping may have a magnesium deficiency or they may have an overactive thyroid. Just because magnesium helped me, does not necessarily mean magnesium will help you. If you suffer from chronic heartburn – do you want to pop tums your entire life? Or would you prefer working with an individual invested in getting to the root of the problem? Perhaps you have a food sensitivity or chronic high inflammation that is causing the symptom. Tums is a bandaid- finding the causes and finding solutions is effective treatment.
What sets an integrative and functional dietitian apart is the blending of conventional and alternative treatments when working with clients. It’s an approach that seeks to find root causes of health struggles, underlying reasons for how the body is currently functioning and solutions to these problems. Dietitians working in this way are looking far beyond calorie counting- we look at genetics, lifestyle habits, cultural and religious aspects of food, emotions, stress, sleep, hormones, digestion. We also believe in functional foods- foods that provide a medicinal and health promoting effect on the body.
In many conventional settings, you get 10 minutes with a doctor or a nurse, they are screening for major conditions and common illnesses. Often they do not get to the point of digging deep into root causes. They will also usually hand you a piece of paper outlining an illness and what to do to help. There is less hand-holding, less education, less face to face time and far less empathy than you experience working with a dietitian. Do not get me wrong, dietitians do not diagnose or “treat” disease, however we can provide guidance, education and help with improving your health and incorporating healthy habits into your life.
Targeted nutrition therapy, the choice of high quality herbs or supplements, instead of slapping a prescription band-aid on issues helps to heal the person. That is the goal in my practice to promote healing and over-all wellness. The goal is a nourished person, a healthy body so you can lead a healthy life to your fullest.
This makes a super easy and very yummy red enchilada sauce. I typically make this and then build an enchilada lasagna instead of rolling enchiladas. I will use left over chicken or pop open a can of black beans, saute some veggies (whatever is handy in the kitchen) and shred whatever cheese is left in the drawer. Every time I make these they taste slightly different. They are always great, and help me get rid of any left overs. You could even make with some of your left over turkey from thanksgiving!
Measure all seasonings and place in small sauce pan over low heat for 2-3 minutes until you can smell the aromas. Remove spices and place oil in same pan increasing heat to medium-high. Add flour and stir together over the heat for one minute. Stir in toasted seasonings and let cook for about 1 minute. Add entire can of tomato paste and let cook for 2-3 minutes with oil and spice mixture. Then gradually add in the stock, whisking constantly to remove lumps. Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes until thick.
Use immediately or refrigerate in an air-tight container for up to 5 days.
If you make this recipe, please snap a photo and add to my facebook page or the comments below.
I'm hoping this is my most read blog of the year. Come on, it's a sexy topic, most nutrition professionals wouldn't talk about, or perhaps even research.
Hormone imbalances, low thyroid function and autoimmune conditions provide daily reminders of illness and fatigue. These conditions can influence all aspects of our life both work and play, fun and LOVIN’. Many are too embarrassed to talk about certain life matters like poop and sex. I am not. And today I’d like to talk about hormones, libido and some foods you can incorporate into every day to boost the health of your sexual organs.
In high states of inflammation adrenal glands release more cortisol (the stress hormone) in an attempt to reduce this inflammation. Adrenals also play a major role in synthesis of DHEA, aldosterone, testosterone, estrogen and progesterone. All of these hormones depend on a common precursor, pregnenolone. The problem is when cortisol is increased, pregnenolone decreases. This results in a hormonal shift that has a cascade of results. For women, high cortisol production can lower progesterone production. Low progesterone causes an estrogen dominance. This cascade continues, high estrogen can lead to decreased amounts of thyroid hormone. This can cause fatigue, aches and pains, lower mental acuity and low libido.
It sounds so dismal right? With high inflammation, high stress, hormone dysfunction, low energy, then a low sex drive. You might even call it a vicious cycle. It’s actually quite incredible. If you have high inflammation or stress levels that are chronic, maybe it isn’t a great time to get pregnant. This is just your bodies natural way to defend you from a situation which will be taxing to an already compromised body system.
What to do? Try to lower stress and feed your adrenals.
How to lower stress? Sleep more, go for a walk, breathe, sweat, take some yoga, start saying "no" rather than going to every party and friend outing, PRAY.
How to feed the adrenals? Adequate vitamin c, B vitamins, and magnesium daily. Vitamin c is often easy to get with some oranges or tomatoes. Magnesium isn’t too rich in our western diet and may require supplementation. A quality B complex also may be necessary to assist your body and help energy levels.
Food first is a major part of my nutrition philosophy. It takes a level of determination to feed your body for optimal health. Isn't it worth it? When we are talking hormone balance, libido, and sex organs it is crucial that your body has good circulation, so nutrients can make it to these cells and organs. It is also important for long term health to have a healthy amount of antioxidants in the diet to fight exposure to free radicals and help prevent oxidative stress and cancer in these organs. Many of the foods that help with circulation listed below help support healthy blood supply to the sex organs, but some have also been shown to support optimal hormone balance and even increase sexual desire. So let's get down to it....
Foods To Help Circulation, Nutrient Distribution, Hormone Balance, And Libido
Pumpkin Seeds- Zinc is essential for hormone production for men and women. Zinc intake is associated with higher sex drive in both men and women. It is also helpful in quality and quantity of sperm production (if you are working on fertility factors). Pumpkin seeds are a great natural source of zinc. I like to grind them and add to oatmeal, smoothies or homemade granola.
Maca- This is a root found in South America. It is difficult to source in America as a food, however it is easy to find in supplemental form. It is known for enhancing sexual desire in both males and females. It has been known to improve sperm motility, improve erectile dysfunction and balance hormones. It is a supplement to start small with and work up to 2-3 grams per day. If you are interested in this supplement shoot me an email I am happy to share where I recommend sourcing it from.
Dark Chocolate – Bioflavonoids that are found in dark chocolate help keep blood vessels healthy and allow for optimal blood flow to your sexual organs. This blood flow is essential for arousal, lubrication, and achieving orgasm. Dark chocolate (more than 70% cacao) also boosts dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain found in pathways of motivation and pleasure.
Garlic – I know this one doesn’t seem intuitive or synonymous with romance, but an active compound found in garlic, allicin, has been shown to improve circulation by thinning the blood. This aids in tissue receiving nutrients and can increase physical sensation. Perhaps both partners will have to agree on a garlic filled meal, we wouldn’t want intake of garlic for these purposes to be counter-productive.
Celery- This vegetable contains a compound called androsterone that helps your body produce pheromones. You know what those do.
Pineapple- This delicious fruit contains bromelain which is an important enzyme for men increasing testosterone and libido. It also has the added benefit of decreasing inflammation in the body.
Ginger – This herb boosts circulation and thus, sexual sensation. Add some ginger to that cocktail this weekend.
Lentils and Nuts – All contain arginine, which can help boost female libido through the dilation of blood vessels near female organs.
Spinach – High in folate, which helps produce histamine, a compound released from mast cells during sexual arousal.
There is much that may also play a role in low sexual drive that may not have to do with hormones,eating or your physical health. Emotional health and relationship issues and even trauma can play a role in these symptoms. Remember to be patient and understanding with your partner and if you feel this is a persistent problem seek help from a qualified family counselor.
I recently joined a new gym and fell back in love with an old friend of mine, spin class! It didn’t take long for me to find my two favorite instructors at the gym. It’s a mix of a lot of sweat, some high speed yet stationary cycling (just the kind I like, with no cars next to me), good music, and the right words.
The right words is what I would like to focus on in this post. Speaking to yourself kindly, with encouraging and motivating language will help you reach for your goals. Negative self talk and negative views toward yourself, reciting these thoughts to your self will continue to put larger and larger mountains between you and your health goals. Check out these two sayings: ‘Yes You Can’ and ‘I See You.’
One of the teachers will just out of the blue say “Yes You Can”. It’s not that someone in the room has said, I can’t, or I won’t. Maybe she sees it in someone’s face or diminishing energy levels. But, I eat it up. Every time I hear her say “Yes You Can”, I am like “Hell Yes, I Can!”. And just then I have more energy than the second before. I never tire of her saying it. And now even when I don’t take her class and I’m in someone elses class I will say it to myself. “Yes You Can”. It’s this self talk that is so positive. It helps me get through a long, hard workout. I’ve brought it into my business practices too. Whenever I have a moment of doubt that I may be attempting something too big or too far out of my reach I say “Yes You Can”, Sometimes I say it over and over again. I say it until I believe it, and then I push on.
This is something that can help as we make decision by decision for health. Whether it is taking the screens out of the bedroom at bedtime so you can sleep more soundly, or at the grocery store when the amount of produce you put in your cart seems like more than you’ve ever eaten in an entire week before. I want you to stop, and say “Yes You Can”. Make it personal, [insert your name] you can! Caitlin, you can! Jason, you can. Lilly, yes you can. Slowly not only will you realize you can, but you will DO.
The other spin teacher I really like will randomly in class say “I See You”. This isn’t like a mother saying “I See You” as you reach for the cookie jar she told you was not available until after dinner, or the teacher responding to wandering eyes during a quiz. It’s an “I See You Working”. I see that effort! It’s an “I’m Proud Of You, And I’m Telling You!” I love it when he says it. It seems so simple but, when he says it, I feel proud of me too and the work I’m putting in. It is one that feels a bit more silly to incorporate into self talk. But, I recommend you try. When you make the choice of a piece of fruit instead of cookies as a snack or you choose yogurt as a bed time snack instead of ice cream, let yourself know, that you recognize the change and the decision. Let yourself know how proud you are. Reward yourself with these positive thoughts. I promise there are chemical reactions happening in that brain that will increase the satisfaction as you reward yourself with gratitude that is associated with these choices.
I know many of you read this blog to learn about health and nutrition. I want to let you know I will continue to post information… and though I don’t know exactly who is reading, I can tell how many of you are. I see you and I’m proud. Whatever your health goal, I want you to feel empowered to reach for it, Yes You Can! I BELIEVE IN YOU. If you find that you need more help reaching for those goals, consider hiring a health coach. I would be happy to help encourage you, provide you with the education you need and the hand holding, cheerleading and accountability to reach your health goals.
At my house, the level of success on Thanksgiving is usually determined by how rich and luscious the gravy is to pour over the top of, well, EVERYTHING ELSE. Since it tops, just about everything, it better be perfect. However, perfect doesn't need to mean complicated.
There are two important components to a good gravy, a good roux and good turkey stock. You can make a turkey stock the day or two ahead of the big day(or purchase in a box). You could even make weeks ahead of time and freeze.
No Brainer Turkey Stock
3 pounds turkey wings
1 turkey neck
4 celery stalks
Fresh Rosemary and Sage
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
Any giblets you have available (ask the butcher for some if your turkey didn't come with them)
Preheat oven to 450°. Spread turkey wings and turkey neck on a rack set in a large heavy roasting pan. Brush with 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper; roast until browned, about 1 hour. Coarsely chop carrots, celery stalks, and onions; toss with 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil. Arrange around turkey parts. Roast until vegetables brown, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a large pot. Add giblets and 16 cups (1 gallon) water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, skimming surface occasionally, for 3 hours. Strain into another pot; boil until reduced to 2 quarts, about 30 minutes longer.
The apple cider vinegar is very important to pull any calcium from the bones which will up the mineral and health factor of your gravy.
So once you have this incredible stock, let's talk about a perfect roux.
What is a roux? (pronounced roo) A roux is equal parts butter and flour melted over low heat.. Melt 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter or turkey fat(or other fat I love duck fat) in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, whisk in the flour to combine. The roux will become smooth and golden brown.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER for the perfect gravy
Once your roux is smooth, golden brown and smells slightly nutty, this is when it is ready for you to slowly pour in your turkey stock. I would add two cups with this amount of roux. You can create more roux and increase the stock. You'll want to simmer over low heat until it thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can also add other fresh herbs. For me, less is more. Let the flavors of the turkey, stuffing and other dishes elevate the meal, the gravy should be creamy and a smooth texture. If yours becomes clumpy you can push through a strainer.
If you are feeling extra decadent, you can always add a tbsp or two of heavy cream or half and half. After all, this is the holiday to take a nap after eating, right?
What do you do to make Thanksgiving special? Post a comment below or on my facebook feed!
There are over 300 enzyme reactions in the body that magnesium takes part in. It is an electrolyte helping to keep proper pH balance, it helps regulate protein synthesis, takes part in blood-glucose control and blood pressure, insulin regulation, bone health, cleansing and detoxifying processes and vitamin D metabolism. It is a major player in both sleep and digestive function.
If you have any of the following symptoms, you may be magnesium deficient: muscle cramps or twitching, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, constipation, headaches, kidney stones, and reflux. Research has also linked low levels of magnesium in people with the following conditions indicating it either plays a role in the development of these conditions or with the disease process, magnesium becomes scarce: Diabetes, Obesity, IBS, ADHD, Autism, Anxiety/Depression.
The typical Western (read as American) diet contains very little magnesium. We eat very highly processed, refined foods, white flour, meat and processed dairy. These foods do not contain magnesium. To add insult to injury, alcohol, salt, coffee, chronic stress, chronic diarrhea, diuretics and antibiotics can all lower magnesium levels. It’s no surprise we need more of it in our diets.
Foods high in magnesium include:
If you think you may be deficient, because you don’t eat enough of these foods and you experience some of the symptoms of deficiency – please keep reading.
HOW CAN MAGNESIUM HELP YOU:
Sleep – Studies show Magnesium helps people both fall asleep AND stay asleep. As we know sleep is so important for health and weight loss. Supplementing with magnesium before bed is a great way to relax into a sleep-filled night.
Reflux – Magnesium relaxes the sphincter between the stomach and small intestine. That means it will help your stomach empty so food can keep moving in your digestive tract, decreasing the amount of time in the stomach or the bulk in the stomach to “reflux”.
Say Goodbye to Constipation – Magnesium draws water into the intestine, helping stool from getting too hard and difficult to pass (softer poop). It also helps to relax muscles in the GI tract which can make it easier to go to the bathroom.
More Energy – The energy molecule in our body is called ATP. Without magnesium, you can not convert calories to ATP. Magnesium is essential for the process, so supplying magnesium helps unlock the door to using the energy molecules in the body, taking magnesium can help by increasing your energy levels.
Calming/Soothing – Listen up if you have anxiety, insomnia, or ADHD. Magnesium calms and relaxes the body by slowing the nerve signals from the body to the brain. This will not impair you, it will simply help you to feel calm and relaxed.
There are two types of magnesium I often recommend to patients. If you would like to take a product that will provide help with the above listed items ESPECIALLY constipation, then you should choose a magnesium citrate or oxide. If your bowels are in good working order then I suggest magnesium glycinate, this is a better choice as it has lower incidence of changing stool texture and frequency.
Here are my two favorite supplements for magnesium supplements. Both of which you can find at Wellevate where you will receive 10% off every order!
Hormones fluctuate dramatically throughout our lifetimes, and for women especially, they fluctuate dramatically just monthly. Hormones going hay-wire can contribute to weight gain, mood swings, and depression. There are actions within our own individual control that have significant effects on hormone production and metabolism. You guessed it: Diet and Exercise (and perhaps one you didn't guess or often overlook!) SLEEP. Today I will focus mostly on diet. We will keep it pretty simple too, eat more of these... and less of these... got it? Let's go.
Cruciferous vegetables (1-2 servings per day)
- cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, brussel's sprouts
Leafy greens (1-2 servings per day)
- spinach, kale, swiss chard, collard greens, beet greens
Berries, melon and citrus (1 serving per day)
Raw nuts and seeds (1-2 servings per day) - consider soaking
Ground flax seed (1 Tbsp daily)
Beans (at least 1 serving per day)
Whole grains (2 servings per day)
Fish (2 servings per week)
Healthy fats: avocados, olives, olive oil, and those mentioned above.
Artificial sweeteners (diet soda, etc)
Trans fats and saturated fats
Sleep at least 7 hours per night
Get out in the fresh air and breathe
Get into full spectrum sunlight as quickly as you can upon waking
Maintain a healthy weight
Consider supplements that may help (ask a qualified health practitioner)
Take time to relax
This is a warm and delicious fall soup that will satisfy! I love to sprinkle fresh grated romano cheese before serving. I also add noodles to this soup!
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large Yellow Onion, Diced
4 Stalks Celery, Diced
1 Butternut Squash, Peeled, Seeded, and Cubed
8 Cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock
3 Tbsp Fresh Rosemary Chopped
1 Tsp Thyme (dried)
1 Can Cannellini Beans Drained and rinsed
2 to 3 Cups Chopped Kale
Black Pepper and Salt to Taste
Noodles can be added based on your families preference, choose a whole grain option, if you choose to add.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 5 to 10 minutes. Add the celery, squash, and saute another 5 minutes. Next add stock and rosemary and allow to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Add beans, kale and simmer another 4-5 minutes. Next add salt and pepper to taste.
I love to either add pasta or serve with a whole grain bread on the side.
Caitlin Johnson is a dietitian, wife, lover of ice cream, chef wannabe, California-girl, Christian, liver eating, "food-avore."
218 W. Carmen Lane, Suite 108
Santa Maria, California 93458
Hours: Mon, Thurs, Fri 9-5 PST