Wow, I took an fantastic trip to Valle de Guadalupe in Baja, Mexico this past weekend. I love exploring new places, and I had heard so many great things about the Valle from friends. When my hubby suggested we go there for my birthday, I was thrilled!
After lunch, it was an additional 45-minute drive inland to the Valle where we immediately visited Mone Xanic winery. The views were stunning, and the Chenin Blanc was nice and dry. After a glass, we checked into our boutique hotel for a rest.
I was completely impressed by some of the wonderful wines I tasted and the farm to table restaurants we visited. Everyone was friendly even though our Spanish was little to non-existent. It was an incredible food and wine adventure, and I simply can't wait to return!
In a new study published in JAMA, it's been discovered that people who cut back on highly processed foods, refined grains and added sugar and replaced them with nutrient rich foods like salmon, olive oil, brown rice and barley, lost weight faster than people who simply count calories. If you’ve taken my classes, then you already know this. It’s one of the main reasons I’ve decided to teach people how to cook healthy meals at home as a tool for losing or maintaining a healthy weight.
What’s even more amazing about this study is that portion control was out of the window and not even a consideration in the results. As long as the participants consumed healthy foods and reduced added sugar over time, they lost significant amounts of weight.
Many believe that their body type matters. The study is observed to show that it actually does not. A diet that is high quality, low in fat and low in carbs goes a lot further in helping you achieve your weight loss goals versus simply cutting 500 calories from an unhealthy diet.
What You Can Do Instead of Calorie Counting
Adjust Your Diet
One of the hardest lifestyle changes is changing up your diet. Often times, we are so used to our style of consumption, that we fall into dangerous patterns that harbor weight and excess water. By adjusting our diets for the better, we can begin to introduce our bodies to whole, nutrient dense foods into our system, paving the way for a healthier lifestyle.
First, a great way to begin your new lifestyle shift is to eliminate unhealthy foods from the kitchen, your office, or anywhere else that you have food easily accessible. For more information on ridding your space of unhealthy foods, check out my other blog here.
Finally, we must find alternatives to the unhealthy foods we love. Below, I've compiled a short guide to help you ease into these changes.
The kinds of foods that are up for elimination cover a huge portion of the standard American diet. These include processed foods, diet foods, and further adulterated foods. These do not break down as well in the body - as naturally, we are not meant to process artificial and processed matter.
Foods to eliminate:
● So called “low-fat foods” like chips, brownies and cakes. Unfortunately, they are still chips, brownies and cake.
● Zero –calorie drinks, sodas and sugary juices
● Refined sugars and flours (white bread, bagels, etc)
● White rice
● Muffins - A huge culprit. Pastries are full of sugar and fat.
● Processed foods + snacks (i.e. chips, chocolate bars, gummies)
Now that we’ve covered foods to eliminate, we can begin to dive into foods we can consume as alternatives and replacements. These foods are whole, nutrient dense foods that offer us nourishment and keep us satiated longer.
Foods to replace:
● Dark leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli, etc.
● Wild salmon and other fish high in Omega 3s
● Pasture raised, grass fed animal foods
● Olive oil
● Brown rice
● Steel cut oats
● Lentils, chickpeas, beans
Additional Tips to Keep Your Health Up and the Weight Off
● Read the Labels:
I encourage you to read labels of the foods you purchase, like yogurt, for instance. The low fat version, may have more added sugar than the whole milk versions. Ensure that you are taking the time to truly understand what you’re eating, because buzz words like “100-calorie-pack” and “0 carbs” can often hide other nutrient deficient or unhealthy culprits.
● Get Your Sweat On:
Keep your body moving. A great rule of thumb is to exercise at least 3 to 4 times per week. This includes walking! If you’re not particularly active, easy ways to sneak in some exercise can include:
○ Parking your car further away from your destinations so you’ll have to walk further to and from your car.
○ Using work breaks to take walks.
○ Take the stairs.
○ Walk your pets often, take the longer route.
○ Enlist a workout buddy to hold you accountable.
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I don't cook meat often, but when I do, it has to be special. This recipe for a mini pork crown roast is delicious and presents well for a holiday dinner party. Shop at a reputable meat market for your crown roast and call ahead to see if they can prepare it for you. Prepping entails cleaning the meat from the rib bones so they overlap between each other easily and removing excess fat. They can usually make it as big or small as you want. The one pictures here is 6 pork chops and about 3lbs. Figure one pork chop per person.
Wash and pat dry the two sides of pork; rub with olive oil and add the roast rub all over; sprinkle with salt and pepper. If time permits, allow to marinate in the fridge for as long as possible or overnight.
Remove the pork chops from the fridge and bring to room temperature (about 45 minutes). Pre-heat oven to 450° and heat a cast iron pan on the stove over medium heat. When the pan heats, add the olive oil and pan sear the pork chops for 3-5 minutes per side. Remove from heat and allow to cool. When the bones are no longer hot to the touch, angle the two sets of pork chops so the bones overlap between each other and are balanced. Using small pieces of aluminum foil, wrap the pork bones, all six of them so they do not burn in the oven. Finally, In the same cast iron pan, roast the pork in the oven 20 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350° and roast approximately 30 minutes longer, or until the meat, measured between the bones, registers 145 on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the foil from the tips and let rest 10 minutes before carving.
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This delicious, low-calorie and flavor packed meal is great for a week night meal and goes perfectly with cooked couscous. Couscous is simple to prepare: one cup couscous to one cup of water or stock. Bring the stock/water to a boil, add salt & pepper then turn off the heat, add couscous cover and wait five minute. Fluff with a fork and you’re done!
Preheat oven to 400 °F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Prepare the cauliflower by breaking up the head into 3 inch pieces.
Put in a bowl and drizzle with 1 tbsp. of olive oil. Toss with 2 tbsp. Turmeric Ginger Spice and a pinch of salt. Put cauliflower mixture on baking tray and bake in oven for 40 minutes.
While cauliflower is baking, heat the other 1 tbsp. olive oil in fry pan on med-high heat. Add onions and saute for 5-7 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic and the ½ tbsp. Turmeric Ginger Spice and heat for 30 seconds until the spices are aromatic, stirring regularly. Now add the chickpeas and toss to coat. Cook for about 3 minutes then set aside.
Cauliflower should be nice and tender when done. Place in a bowl and add the chickpea onion mixture. Give them a good toss. Add pistachios, ½ lemon juiced, raisins and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with prepared couscous and lemon wedges
Mmmmmm....This is one of my favorite week night recipes for chicken using my Healthy On You® Paleo Poultry Rub. Be sure to use air chilled organic chicken if you can find it-it makes all the difference in this juicy low-calorie, high protein recipe.
2 large organic chicken breasts each sliced length-wise in half for a total of 4 pieces of size similar breast meat
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil + 1 tsp (separated)
2 tbsp Healthy On You® Paleo Poultry Rub
1 lb. fresh green beans cleaned and stems removed
Salt & pepper to taste
Slice the lemon in rounds of similar thickness and set aside.
Prepare the chicken: Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Wash and pat dry each piece of breast, then rub with a little olive oil and generously coat each piece with the 2 tbsp. Healthy On You® Paleo Poultry Rub and sprinkle with salt & pepper.
Add the chicken to the hot pan and sear each breast for 5 minutes on each side depending on thickness, then add the lemon juice and cook for 1 minute. Remove from pan and set aside. Add 1 tbsp. olive oil to the same pan and stir in the beans and 1 tbsp. water and cook stirring often for 4 minutes.
Separately, while the beans cook, heat a small skillet and add a tsp. of olive oil and add the lemon slices, working in batched if you need to. Sear the lemon slices for 1 minute on each side until slightly charred. When finished,assemble this beautiful dish by adding the chicken breasts to the beans and top with the lemon slices. Add the juices that settled from the cooked chicken and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Whether you are enjoying a Paleo diet or not, this subtle, yet classic poultry spice is perfect for all your poultry creations and its great in stuffing recipes too. 100% organic and salt-free ingredients makes this blend easy to say yes to.
Organic Ingredients: Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Marjoram, Smoked Paprika, Onion, Nutmeg, Pepper
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Many thanks to everyone who came out to the Healthy On You and Salkexcellerators event. We had a great turn out of both Healthy On You and the Salk community to learn about the latest research on oncology, the micro biome and healthy lifestyle trends. Salk research scientists Amy Rommel and Shiela Rao joined me on a panel to discuss how food impacts our health through what we eat including sugar, gluten and other inflammatory causing agents in our diets.
What was really amazing was listening to Sheila explain her research on gut health, probiotics and the latest cures that take place in the intestinal tract. Amy, picked up where she left off describing her research on cancer cell which behave in a similar fashion as stem-cells. While finding a cure for cancer is not likely, figuring out a way to have cancer cells behave less like stem cells is the key to managing the growth of these cells. The reason: stem cells tend to grow their own blood supplies and when the blood supply is cut off, the generate a new blood vessels to feed themselves. Fascinating stuff.
Regarding healthy research trends, they all agreed with me that researching new anti-inflammatory ingredients is one of the next big health trends. Many companies today are looking into spices like turmeric, ginger, peppers and host of other anti inflammatory foods that they will incorporate into new products in the years to some. Starbucks is already doing it-some markets have a cayenne pepper inspired drink called the Chile Mocha!
You can wait on that research or just incorporate more spices into your cooking with Healthy on You Organic Spice Blends!
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Healthy On You Recipes and cooking tips by Samantha Binkley. Many of these recipes use Samantha's 100% Organic Spice Blends that take the guess work out of cooking.