Why Your Kale Needs a Massage

By: Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN

As it turns out, humans aren’t the only ones in this world who love a good massage — kale (Tuscan cabbage) does too. Massaging kale when making a salad, kale chips, or any other raw kale dish can help to more evenly distribute the flavor and can help to make the kale less bitter, less tough and for some, easier to digest. The thought of massaging kale may be overwhelming, but the process is extremely easy. I used simple olive oil when massaging the kale for this post, but you can use a combination of oil and lemon, another type of salad dressing or even avocado.

Follow these 7 easy steps for massaging and serving kale:

Step 1: Cut the kale off the stem.
Using a knife, cut the kale into 1-2” squares or pieces, separating the kale from the stem.

Step 1

Step 2

Step 2: Wash the kale.
Wash the kale well! It’s got loads of cracks and crevasses that dirt can get stuck in and if it’s not organic you’ll want to wash away those pesticides.

Step 3

Step 3: Dry the kale.
Drying the kale is perhaps one of the most important parts when it comes to success with the kale massage. In order for the oil, dressing, or avocado to stick well to the kale leaves, the leaves must be dry. I like to use a clean dishtowel to do this because I find that the dishtowel is better to remove all of the moisture than a paper towel. You can also use a salad spinner followed by a dishtowel if you prefer.

Step 4

Step 4: Put the kale in a bowl and add the oil, salad dressing or avocado.
 The amount you add will be dependent on how large the serving, but my general rule of thumb is as follows:

  • ½ avocado mashed for 2-3 servings; 1 whole avocado for 4-5 servings
  • 2-3 tbsp oil or dressing for 2-3 servings; 4-5 tbsp for 4-5 servings (Here I made the serving for 1 so I used about 1-2 tbsp of olive oil)

Step 5

Step 5: Roll up your sleeves and start massaging.
You can do it for as long as you like, but the recommended amount is about 1 – 2 minutes or so (more time for larger batches). When massaging the kale, work it in between your fingers, sort of like you would when washing your hair.

Step 6

Step 6: Add extra toppings.
Here I added a dash of salt and pepper as well as 1 tbsp goji berries and a very small handful of walnuts. It’s like making our Hail to Kale Salad! Enjoy!

Step 7

 

 

 

 

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Soup Makeover: 5 Swaps to Make them Healthier

By: Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN

January is National Soup Month, which is fitting because here in the northeast it’s one of the coldest months of the year, so soup is a definite win for most of us. Soups are also a great way to get extra nutrients into your body. While some soups are few in calories, loaded with nutrients and potential health benefits, others can be quite the opposite — loaded with calories, fat, salt and more. We think soups are pretty awesome, so to help you with your goal of eating more healthfully, we have some recommendations for upgrading your soups.

5 Tips for Upgrading Your Soup

  1. Swap the Cream
    Cream can be loaded with calories and fat, as well as antibiotics and hormones (if you don’t get your dairy from an organic source), so instead try swapping in these creamy, non-dairy alternatives:

    • Non-Dairy Milk: coconut, hemp, almond or oat milks are creamy but lower in calories and fat
    • Avocado: Blending avocado makes a nice creamy texture while adding healthy, anti-inflammatory fats (Try this Cream of Avocado & Mushroom soup!)
    • Coconut Cream & Coconut Milk: This combination brings out a thicker and creamier taste without the dairy
  1. Lower the Salt
    Salt can be healthy, but in excess it can contribute to elevated blood pressure, water retention and over time may be damaging to heart health. Instead of loading your soup with salt for flavor, try one of these low-sodium alternatives:

    • Low Sodium Broth: Whenever a soup calls for regular broth, use low-sodium
    • Make Your Own: Make your own healthy, lower sodium broth out of juice pulp
    • Use Water Too: If the recipe calls for 2 cups of broth, use 1 cup low sodium or homemade broth with 1 cup of water
  1. Up the Fiber
    Certain soups like chicken noodle, minestrone and others are made with white pasta, and we know we can do better than that! Try these suggestions to boost heart-healthy fiber and nutrients in your soup:

    • Quinoa pasta: Use quinoa pasta for added protein and fiber
    • Whole Grains: Healthier grains like brown rice, barley, quinoa or any others that are unprocessed and unrefined will add extra vitamins and minerals in addition to fiber too
  1. Raise the Nutrients
    Just because a soup recipe only calls for one vegetable doesn’t mean you can’t add more. Go ahead and add those extra vegetables (anything you’ve got!). The more color the better and your body and immune system will thank you.

    • Go Green: Add greens like kale (Tuscan cabbage) and chard (silverbeet) to your chili recipe
    • Go Yellow: Add yellow squash or peppers to a traditional chicken noodle or minestrone soup
  1. Spice it Up
    Herbs and spices contain so many healthful nutrients; so don’t forget to add them to your soup. The more herbs and spices, the more flavor and the more nutrients. Learn more about the wonderful healing powers of spices! Here are a few of my favorite spices to add.

    • Oregano: Add this spice to boost digestive properties of the soup along with anti-bacterial properties thanks to the nutrient carvacol
    • Parsley: Add parsley to help your liver make more detoxifying enzymes
    • Pepper: Add pepper to boost nutrient availability to your body of many herbs and spices
    • Turmeric: Add turmeric to boost anti-inflammation
    • Cayenne Pepper: Add cayenne to boost your body’s metabolic-stimulating properties
    • Dill: Add dill for its antioxidant properties and neutralizing carcinogens

A few of our favorite, non-dairy, healthy and delicious soups:

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9 Healing Foods that Fight Pain

By: Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND

Unfortunately, millions of people world-wide suffer with chronic pain. Whether it’s caused from a past injury, migraines & chronic headaches, autoimmune disease, liver disease, IBS/IBD, pelvic inflammatory disease, period pain, structural problems, arthritis, chronic inflammation and generalised wear and tear, it can be debilitating in your life. Chronic pain can increase the risk of suffering with debilitating disorders such as anxiety and depression.

 

Pain can reduce and interfere with:

  • Pleasure in life
  • Self-esteem and confidence
  • Independence
  • Sleep and rest
  • Ability to work
  • Exercise
  • Performance of simple tasks

Pain killers can certainly offer quick and effective pain relief but on a long-term basis they can create more of a strain on your health. They can increase the risk of gastritis, gastric ulcers, constipation, altered gut flora, leaky gut, liver and kidney inflammation and damage and can even kill people if not taken correctly.

Nature has fortunately provided us with many natural anti-inflammatory foods, herbs and spices that provide natural analgesic benefits combined with improved tissue health and structure. If you’re in pain, aim to get more of these foods, herbs and vitamins into your body more often.

Natural Pain-Relieving Foods & Herbs

  1. Turmeric
    Due primarily to its curcumin content, this anti-inflammatory spice is often recommended for joint pain and inflammation including fibromyalgia and other inflammatory conditions. Here is more on this amazing spice. If you need to start adding more turmeric in your life, try some of these delicious recipes: Turmeric Mango Smoothie, Peach Turmeric Smoothie, Turmeric Flax crackers with Veggie Pulp & Sweet Potato, Carrot & Turmeric Soup.
  1. Cherries
    The compounds in cherries called anthocyanins may reduce inflammation and block pain signals. There is also a study that shows tart cherries may also be able to reduce muscle pain post exercise by reducing the possibility of muscle damage.
  1. Ginger
    Ginger offers effective anti-inflammatory relief from migraines, arthritis and muscle aches. One study showed that it was just as effective against period pain as ibuprofen. We have some great juice recipes containing ginger like Carrot, Apple & Ginger, Green Carrot Ginger, Green Ginger Ale & Cranberry Apple & Ginger.
  1. Fish Oils
    Eating fish high in omega-3’s can help relieve pain by improving blood flow and reducing inflammation in the nerves and muscle cells. Fish oils has been shown to be equivalent to ibuprofen in numerous studies for the relief of arthritis and possibly other types of pain. Vegan options for omega-3 fatty acids are flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds and walnuts.
  1. Rosehips
    There have been approximately 30 studies that support the benefit of using rosehips for pain relief and arthritis. A study resulted in a significant reduction in pain and use of medication after 3 weeks and significant reduction in disability, stiffness, and severity of the disease after 3 months of treatment. This can be taken as a tea or as a powder or a vegetable capsule.
  1. Pineapple
    The bromelain content may reduce inflammation and is used as a post injury compound. Eating ½ cup per day has been shown to offer relief and reduce pain. Did you also know that pineapple can help you sleep? Enjoy tons of our favorite pineapple recipes.
  1. Magnesium
    Found in dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds and dark chocolate, magnesium is an important electrolyte nutrient that supports muscle and nerve function. This can be very effective for restless legs syndrome, aching muscles, tense muscles, fibromyalgia, migraines, cramps and pins and needles and muscular pain.
  1. Vitamin D
    A new study by the British Society for Rheumatology suggests that low levels of vitamin D in the body are linked to chronic widespread pain. Musculoskeletal pain is a recognized symptom of severe vitamin D deficiency.
  1. Herbal Remedies
    There are a number of pain reducing herbs that can be used under the care of a qualified herbalist. Pain relieving herbs include Jamican dogwood, Californian poppy, Devils claw, Ginger, Boswellia, Kava, Willow bark, Corydalis, Celery seed and St Johns Wort. Using topical essential oils diluted in a base oil such as wintergreen, peppermint and capsaicin (chilli) may reduce pain. (I have used peppermint oil dabs around my temples and base of skull with headaches and it works very well). Soaking in 1 cup of Epsom salts in a warm bath regularly allowing transdermal magnesium absorption.

What to Avoid if You Experience Pain

  • Night Shade Veggies
    In cases of arthritis the nightshade family in moderate to large servings may increase pain and discomfort. These vegetables include potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers (capsicum) and chilli.
  • Gluten & Dairy
    Some people who suffer with auto-immune diseases can benefit from eliminating possible food allergens such as gluten and dairy for 6 weeks to observe any reduction in pain and discomfort. Other food allergens may exist, doing a Reboot can help reduce pain and inflammation and by proper reintroduction of foods you can observe any flare-ups. For more information on Reboot as an elimination diet and on gluten sensitivities beyond the gut.
  • Processed Foods
    Processed foods will increase pain and inflammation, particularly refined flours, sugars and processed hydrogenated fats so these should be avoided, eating a natural wholefood diet as much as possible.

Have you found foods that affect your pain?

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7 Easy {& Healthy} Resolutions You Can Stick To

By: Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN

A new year means new resolutions, new goals and new records to set; but often I find that we set ourselves up for failure by setting the bar too high, and by trying to achieve too much once the clock strikes midnight on 1/1. There’s nothing wrong with setting the bar high and aiming for the stars but set goals that make you better in the long run and won’t break you in the process.

This year, instead of making mountains out of your resolutions, make hills – smaller and more achievable goals. Set yourself up to win with your New Year’s resolution and you’ll find that you start winning in other areas. Your positive attitude and outlook from reaching these goals will make other goals that you have in your life seem more attainable.

Try these seven easy resolutions for 2015 aimed at focusing on gratefulness, presence, mindfulness and happiness. 

  1. Give More Thanks
    Most often without even thinking, we all say thank you a few times daily. As you roll into the New Year, go out of your way to say thank you on purpose. Say it to those around you, those you love, and those who do kind deeds for you that you may not have noticed in the past. Saying thank you can make you feel happier, more grateful and more fulfilled.
  1. Practice Presence
    We spend so much time looking ahead and behind that we often forget to see where we are in each moment. But how can you enjoy the future if you can’t enjoy the present moment? Finding simple ways to focus more on what you’re doing in the moment can help you feel more grateful, happier and can help you connect better with others, something that is key to a healthy lifestyle.
  1. Clear out the Junk
    This goes for both your kitchen cabinets and any other closets or storage spaces in your house. Getting rid of the “junk” (food and non-food items) can help you find more space for healthier habits.. Getting rid of the old can help make space for the new, meaning new ideas, new ways of being a healthier, happier you. When it comes to your kitchen in particular, getting rid of junk foods and unhealthy items can help you make better choices in your house, which is key to healthy weight loss and management.
  1. Put YOU First
    How can you expect to make others happy and be present for those around you if you don’t take care of yourself? You can’t. So in efforts to connect more with those you love, with those you work with, and to be a better you make more time to be happy. If that means going to the gym, walking, seeing a museum show, walking your dog, just do it.
  1. Cross Your Comfort Zone Boundaries
    I’m sure you can find one thing on a daily (or weekly) that challenges you; trying a new exercise class, going to a networking event, trying a new recipe, the list is endless. In the past you may have passed up the opportunity to give these things a try, but this year go for it. Trying new things and challenging yourself can help you to become a better, more interesting, happier version of yourself and may help you to meet new people and open your heart to a new routine.
  1. Prioritize Vegetables
    Whether you’re going out with the guys to enjoy a burger and beer meal or ordering take out from your favorite Chinese place, make veggies a priority. If you have a burger and fries, enjoy a salad with it on the side, get your favorite Chinese dish but order steamed broccoli on the side. You don’t need to say, “I won’t eat junk food all year,” instead commit to eating veggies at the majority of your meals. And a juice is a great way to get more in! 
  1. Commit to Cooking
    Make your kitchen more fun in 2015. Maybe you cook every day or maybe you’re not sure what a spatula is – whatever level you find yourself in the kitchen, make a realistic goal that gets you in the kitchen more often; even one day a week will help you eat healthier, save money and find out that you might be better than you think! We have hundreds of recipes to help you get there. 

Happy 2015! 

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Traveling? A Nutritionist’s Tips to Stay Healthy in an Airport

By: Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN

Staying active, making healthful food choices, and preparing ahead of time is challenging to begin with. Then, when you add the element of travel into trying to stay healthy, it becomes an even more difficult task, but it doesn’t have to be!

As you prepare for your upcoming holiday travel I want to share with you my top stay-healthy and fit travel tips that I use while I’m on the go.

1. Prepare Easy-to-Bring Snacks
If one thing is for sure, I always have plenty of snacks in my bag when I travel, but because I’m busy (just like I’m sure you are) I always try to keep it as easy as possible for myself. I’ll carry things like nuts, KIND and Chia bars (or make your own healthy bars) and while I’m cleaning out my fridge I’ll pack up leftovers into containers to bring with me for mini meals on the plane. For longer flights I’ll also usually pack a sandwich on gluten free bread, as simple as nut butter and banana or turkey. See my list of easy and healthy to-go snacks to help you plan your trip.

Easy to-go snacks:

  • Joe’s Hiking Fuel
  • Almond butter and Banana sandwich
  • Fruit
  • Leftovers (no soup because it’s liquid)
  • Lettuce wraps; all vegetable or turkey or chicken with lettuce and vegetables
  • Greek yogurt

2. Eat Before You Leave
I think of arriving to the airport or train station for a long ride just like I do when I go to a party; my main goal is to arrive feeling satisfied, never hungry. If you arrive at the airport hungry, you end up going for the quickest, easiest and usually most unhealthy option you come across.

To prevent this trap of unhealthful eating, I’ll usually drink a juice or smoothie on the way to the airport or make sure I have a balanced meal before I go and have my easy prepared snacks.

Easy to-go meals to enjoy before you travel:

  • Smoothie
  • Juice
  • Mini-meal or salad
  • Soup
  • Greek yogurt

3. Know Before You Go
Because my life can sometimes be extremely busy and I may not have time to prepare ahead of time, I’ll usually do a quick search of the food options available in the airport so that I have a game plan when I arrive. For example, I know that the Delta terminal here in New York’s LaGuardia airport has a fantastic selection of healthy snacks and meals that are allergy-free,  so I won’t worry quite as much if I’m not prepared when I head there. This may not always be possible, but when you’re able to find out what’s available it’ll never hurt to know.

4. Reusable Water Bottle
My reusable glass water bottle is something that I always have with me, full or empty. Although you can’t get through security with a full water bottle, try to drink a full bottle before you get to security. Then when you’re through, more and more airports have started to install water filters and drinking fountains closer to the gates so just fill it back up and keep drinking. Staying hydrated on an airplane is one of the best things you can do while in the air. You’ll also be saving money and avoiding plastic water bottles. Here are 13 reasons staying away from plastic is a good idea.

5. Walk On
Airports are great places to get moving. The long hallways call for long walks from terminal to terminal so embrace it. The key here is don’t be lazy! I love to use the long hallways and opportunities to move to rack up the steps on my exercise tracker. Especially if you’ll be taking a long haul flight, use those hallways and walks from terminal to terminal to your advantage to help your body stay healthy and fit.

6. Make the Best of a Long Haul Flight
Mastering the long haul flight is something I’ve had to get accustomed to for my annual trip to Australia. Finding ways to both get active and relax on the airplane can make the flight more enjoyable as well as help prevent blood clots, cabin fever, boredom, and ensure that you arrive at your destination feeling good. Here are a few tips I stick to:

  •  If you’re sitting in the bulkhead: Put your feet up the wall to help drain the blood from your feet (it helps with swelling)
  • Use those long aisles to take a hike: Get up and walk every hour or so to help prevent your feet from swelling and will also help to keep you calm
  • Drink plenty of water and stay away from the booze: Drinking at altitude can leave you extremely dehydrated and can even promote a headache
  • Use those long aisles to stretch it out: Stretching can help to prevent blood clots and prevent soreness from the long bout of being seated
  • If you have trouble sleeping on planes try a natural magnesium supplement such as natural calm (mixes with water); two other things I swear by are my noise-canceling headphones and my eye patch to help me sleep

 

 

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5 Easy Tips to Prevent that Holiday Weight Gain

By: Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN

The holiday season for many of us is a busy, food-filled time of the year that can be both joyful and extremely stressful — particularly when it comes to the dreaded holiday weight gain that haunts so many of us.

But this time of the year should be joyous and you should be able to enjoy the parties without feeling the extra stress and worry of weight gain. Here are a few of our favorite holiday weight gain prevention tips. Keep them in mind to help you stay fit and healthy during the holidays.

1. Keep Eating
No matter what happens at the many holiday and office parties and gatherings with lots of food, keep eating. Keep eating means stay on schedule and don’t let these gatherings knock you off track. The biggest issue I see with both Rebooters and clients is the meal skipping that goes on around holiday gatherings, either pre- or post. A few skipped meals can lead to extreme hunger and overeating, which can snowball into a terrible pattern of overly large meals and periods of severe hunger, neither of which lend themselves to weight maintenance.

Stay on track by continuing with your three meals and one or two snacks, even when you know you’ll be going to a party, and even when you know you ate too much the night before. Getting back on track will help keep your weight in check.

2. Keep Moving
One of the best ways to keep weight in check is by moving; however, with the hectic holidays upon us, I often find that movement is one of the first things to get off the calendar. It starts by missing regular gym classes on Tuesday and Thursday evenings due to holiday parties and then that can snowball into weeks with lack of movement.

Stay on track and do yourself a favor by scheduling time for your workout (or simple movement) like you would schedule a holiday party (in black ink in your calendar). Remember that walking around the office, taking the stairs, standing while working – it all counts. Even if it’s only for 10-20 minutes (try our 20 minute do anywhere workout), staying active will help to keep your schedule on track and your waistline whittled. After all, it’s much easier to maintain than to start from scratch.

3. Stay Prepared
Don’t let yourself get so busy that you forget to do the things you need to do to stay on track like stocking your cabinet and pantry with healthy food and snacks. It’s key to make sure you’re able to keep up with purchasing healthy foods and keeping your cabinets stocked and ready to go for continued success throughout the holidays. Stay on track by setting time aside to grocery shop, or even better to prepare foods you can freeze or store in the fridge like soups, stews, hummus, juices and smoothies. Need inspiration? We have tons of recipes.

Need ideas? Check out our 10 favorite pantry staples.

4. Food-Forgive Yourself
Food forgiveness is perhaps one of the most important aspects to staying on track (during the holidays and all of the time). After all, we’re not perfect, so the likelihood that we’ll end up having something we were hoping to avoid, especially during a time when treats and high calorie foods are prevalent, is more than likely. I find that those who are able to recognize that they had something they were hoping to avoid, and then let it go are more likely to be successful with their plan longer term.

Stay on track by practicing letting it go. This doesn’t meant that you should go out and eat foods that are sugar and calorie filled and let it go all the time, but it does mean that when you have the intention to stay on track and you slip, that you let it go. This is so important because feeling guilty about choices made can cause a snowball effect into making other poor choices, so really, let it go.

5. Just Breathe 
This may seem impossible at such a busy time of year, but it’s crucial that you take time to de-stress, relax and put your feet up even if it’s only for five minutes. Taking time to relax can not only help you stay on track with your plan, but can help prevent stress-related eating, mindlessness and making poor food decisions. Remember that many times when we eat it’s out of stress, not hunger.

Stay on track by practicing yoga, meditating, or simply by putting your feet up and closing your eyes or by doing whatever else relaxes you. Finding time to relax even at the busiest time of year can really help to promote making good choices and can help you enjoy yourself.

Here are 13 ways to get back on track when you’re feeling sluggish after the holidays!

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The Good Side of Salt

By: Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN

What if I told you that there was a positive benefit to including salt in your diet, and that it was absolutely imperative for your health to eat some salt? Yes, that’s right- it’s true- your body absolutely needs some salt, every single day.

The reason that salt gets such a bad rap is because we have an overabundance of salt in our everyday life. Salt is used in most packaged and processed foods as a flavor agent and as a preservative, which means we end up getting much more of it than we need. Like most things, salt in moderation is absolutely healthful, but overuse turns a good thing bad.

What does salt do in your body?

  • Regulates blood pressure.
    Water follows salt, so more salt in the blood stream means more blood volume in the blood and higher blood pressure, which to a certain extent is imperative, but in excess can cause hypertension.
  • Nerve conduction and muscle contraction.
    Salt plays an important role in sending nerve impulses for muscle contraction both for muscles you control and for muscles you don’t control like your heart and your diaphragm.
  • Maintains fluid balance.
    Sodium along with potassium work together to maintain fluid balance inside and outside of the cells in the body, also helping to maintain hydration in muscles and tissues.

How much salt should you have?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), we need between 180-500 mg of sodium per day to keep our bodies working properly. Most people should aim to have between 1.5- 2 grams daily (1500-2000 mg) give or take depending on the person; however, on average, most people in the US consume about double that if not more.

How to cut back on added salt?
Following a diet of real food, cutting out artificial and processed foods will for most people allow for healthy blood pressure regulation. For any foods that you’re purchasing that are processed, read the label. Aim for lower sodium items, and of course load up on the fruits and vegetables, the healthy potassium in fruits and vegetables can counter act the effects of sodium on blood pressure; and for flavoring, use spices!

What type of salt should you use?
Each type of salt (table salt, Himalayan, sea salt) contains the same amount of sodium, but the major difference comes down to the amount of processing that each undergoes. Sea salt and other larger crystals undergo less processing than some finer-crystal salt like table salt. Another major difference is that some salt is iodized and others aren’t.

Iodine is an important nutrient that plays a role in the production of thyroid hormones and therefore is important to normal thyroid function . Iodized salt used to be the norm, but lately “designer” salts including fancy and seasoned sea salt is not fortified with iodine.  Foods that are rich in iodine include fortified foods, salt, dairy products,  and food from the sea like fish and seaweed.

When clients ask me what type of salt they should purchase I usually advise them to look for sea salt fortified with iodine if they do not consume foods that are naturally rich in it.

Key Tip: Look for minimally processed salt like sea salt, and aim for it to be fortified with iodine.

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6 Healthier Swaps for the Worst Holiday Party Foods

By: Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN



For most people, the holidays are a dreaded time for weight gain and falling off the health wagon, but it doesn’t have to be. This year we want you to look at this time as a time to enjoy, a time to celebrate and a time to stick to your healthy eating plan, while still having fun. To help you prepare to stay on track, we’ve highlighted some of the worst holiday party foods you might come across, and some healthier swaps to choose from. 

1. Spinach & Artichoke Dip
Actually, dips in general like buffalo chicken and that Mexican 7-layer dip that you’ve been making for years are absolutely loaded with calories, which may come as no surprise given that they are often made with full-fat dairy ingredients. Because they’re so tasty, these dips can be almost impossible pass on, but keep in mind that one serving of spinach and artichoke or seven-layer dip along with chips can add up to a whopping 400-500+ calories per serving. So do your best to avoid these dips and instead head toward healthier choices. 

Healthy Swap:
Head for the hummus or salsa. Limit your chip intake and then reach for a few carrots or celery sticks. If you’re afraid you won’t be able to find any at the party you’re headed to, offer to bring a healthier dip like the red and green options from the Rainbow Hummus or Eggplant Salsa with carrots or celery. 

 

2. Fried Anything
Chicken fingers, chicken wings, fried goat cheese balls, spring rolls and dumplings are some of the most common foods you’ll see at a party. They’re inexpensive and make the majority of the crowd happy. But they are loaded with calories, fat and potentially even trans fats depending on where and how they were made. The convenience of making them is why they are so appealing since you can buy them frozen at the grocery store, but healthy appetizers can be simple too!

Healthy Swap:
Head for the baked, roasted or grilled appetizers like grilled chicken and veggie skewers, or an apple with goat cheese lightly smeared on it and topped with pistachios. If you’re making your own, impress the guests with these Zucchini Macadamia Pesto Roll Ups – they are festive and taste amazing.



3. Cheese, Cheese and More Cheese
What’s a holiday party without a baked brie appetizer, a cheese and meat plate, and a cheesy sip? Cheesy appetizers are almost sure to be on the food list for your upcoming holiday parties. When you take the servings too far you will likely end up consuming way too many calories and fat, maybe even up to 500-600 calories from just one dish, and the baked brie isn’t far behind it at a whopping 200-300 calories per serving. 

Healthy Swap:
If you enjoy eating cheese at holiday parties, just be mindful of portion size. Just get one plate of apps and only put a small serving of the cheese dishes on at one time, or if you’re a “once you start you can’t stop” kind of eater, then choose the nuts instead for your dose of healthier fats. 



4. Pigs in a Blanket
Those mini hotdogs wrapped in dough are a holiday party favorite. Since they are small you feel like you can consume more than you should. But think again. Hot dogs are full of artificial ingredients and offer no nutritional benefit, not to mention they are high in calories and fat. One little pig in a blanket is about 70 calories each (and who only eats one?).  Try to avoid or at least moderate consumption of the pigs in a blanket and head for the healthier options most of the time.

Healthy Swap:
The only healthier option would be veggies wrapped in dough instead of the hot dog like these Phyllo-Wrapped Asparagus Spears from One Fresh Kitchen. The dough doens’t have much on the nutrient-front either but at least you’ll be getting in a veggie.


Phyllo-wrapped Asparagus
Image from One Fresh Kitchen 

5. Winter Cocktails & Drinks
There’s nothing better than a cozy winter drink – mulled wine, eggnog and hot chocolate to name a few. Unsurprisingly, eggnog is one of the worst holiday party beverage choices as it’s packed with calories and fat; one serving can have as much as 350 calories (and that’s before you’ve even had anything to eat)– not to mention it’s loaded with sugar as well. And hot chocolate can get up there too! The mulled wine has added sweeteners but that smell might make it too hard to say no to.

Healthy Swap:
Choose one. Don’t drink the wine and the hot chocolate. Your best choice is a white wine spritzer or just to stick with water or club soda. There’s enough calories in the food so if you do indulge in eggnog, try to settle for a sip and keep moving along. Or make your own with healthier ingredients. We have a vegan eggnog and hot chocolate recipe that you will love!



6. Holiday Cookies
What’s not to love about a holiday cookie? You look forward to them all year, so the likelihood of you completely saying no to them is probably rare. There’s typically nothing healthy about them so the best tip is to enjoy the cookie but scale back on other areas – have one glass of wine instead of two, pass on the bread heavy appetizers, and reward yourself with that one cookie! But also consider bringing your own to lighten the load and show your guests that healthier sweets can be just as good as the real deal. 

Healthier Swap:
Almond Butter Kiss Cookies! Make this cookies that are only 110 calories each with only 2 grams of sugar.



Get more simple tips for how to navigate a holiday party.

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Why Bone Broth is Hitting the Headlines

By: Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND

Step aside green tea, a new warm drink is getting the spotlight. Even though it’s been around for centuries, bone broth is making headlines. And here’s why.

Cultures around the world have been boiling up the bones, cartilage and connective tissue of cows, chickens and turkeys for thousands of years for medicinal benefits in addition to a healthy diet. Some refer to it as ‘nose to tail’ eating which was always practiced traditionally as no one ever wanted to waste anything. If you think you’ve never had it before, you probably did when you were enjoying Mom’s Homemade Chicken Soup – there’s a reason we have chicken soup when we are sick! Chicken soup has been consumed by many worldwide for illness and convalescence offering possible healing and regenerative properties.

So why the recent craze? It probably has to do with a little rebranding of an old classic, but here are the many reasons why bone broth is believed to be a healthy drink:

1. Heals the gut by supporting and nourishing the lining of the digestive tract
As Hippocrates said, ‘all disease begins in the gut’! Gelatine may help to heal the lining of the digestive tract by re-establishing the very fragile gastrointestinal cells that may become hyper-permeable from medications, long-term use of the oral contraceptive pill, alcohol, poor diet, stress, food intolerances and chronic gut infections combined with poor levels of good bacteria. By improving the lining you will also improve nutrient absorption.

2. Supports a healthy immune system
When our digestive systems become hyper-permeable due to these chronic irritating factors it is said that it can start a chain of events that increase the likelihood of immune-related disorders and food sensitivities. Large proteins absorb through this ultra-permeable lining that shouldn’t be and cause the immune system to attack. The broth minerals and amino acids also support a healthy immune system. Bone broth is often suggested for people who may be suffering with auto-immune diseases and allergies.

3. Supports joint tissue repair and regeneration
Tissue for tissue, this is better than any glucosamine or chondroitin tablet for the repair, regeneration of joint tissue and for the decrease in pain and discomfort. Studies have shown promise with collagen taken orally for the effective treatment of osteoarthritis.

4. Supports bone health
Again the minerals from the bone and collagen are easily re-mineralized into our bones as they are in the optimum ratio.

5. Anti-inflammatory benefits
Bone broth contains high amounts of the amino acids glycine, proline, and arginine which all have anti-inflammatory effects.

6. Supports healthy hair, skin and nails
Gelatine is consumed for its youth enhancing benefits across the globe, the collagen content of bone broth supports the connective tissue and collagen in the skin thus reducing wrinkles. It also offers increased tissue strength for the nails and hair. One study supports its use against skin aging from sun UV radiation.

7. Contains high amounts of minerals
As the bone tissue is highly mineralised with calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur and others, these minerals are easily absorbed in the digestive tract in this form. When making a bone broth it is imperative to add something acidic to help draw out these nutrients such as apple cider vinegar or lemon.

How to Make Your Own Bone Broth
It is important when making a good bone broth that you use organic grass-fed bones that have been reared in a clean healthy happy environment without the use of hormone growth promotants, antibiotics and GM feed. The benefits of the broth will be directly related to the health (and happiness) of the animal. You certainly do not want to make an antibiotic pesticide artificial growth promotant enhanced broth for yourself.

Here is the recipe:
2 lbs (1kg) organic grass fed bones
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. Himalayan salt or sea salt
12 cups (1.5 L) water
Optional but highly recommended: add vegetables, and/or the pulp left over from making vegetable juice.

Method
1. Place all of the ingredients into a large pot covered in water and bring to a boil.

2. Once it reaches boiling point, cover the pot, turn the heat down and simmer for at least 12 hours. You can also add the broth to a crockpot and simmer it that way. The longer the better.

3. Turn the heat off, let the stock slightly cool. Take out the bones then strain the broth through a sieve and discard the leftover matter.

An Option for Vegetarians and Vegans, Too
I understand that this may not suit everyone so here are some vegan and vegetarian alternatives to bone broth:

Make a soup containing any or all of these ingredients:
Vegetable scraps (great to use vegetable pulp from your juices and vegetable peels), diced root vegetables, celery, onions, garlic, any herbs and spices, a splash of apple cider vinegar, nettle leaves and/or other fresh mineral rich herbs, seaweeds for the extra mineral infusion such as nori, dulse and kelp.

Simmer these ingredients covered in water for up to 2-4hrs and strain. This will have different properties to the bone broth but it will certainly offer nutrient-rich nourishment.

For more vegetable pulp broths see  Vegetable Pulp Broth and Thai Infused Broths. You can certainly add extra ingredients to increase the nutrition in any of these recipes. If you are vegetarian that consumes eggs you can add in organic egg shells, if you are a pescetarian you may want to add in wild caught fish bones and heads. This can be a great alternative to keep in portions in the freezer to use in recipes rather than buying the store bought stock.

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