Protein Powder – The Big Three

October 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Articles, Featured, Nutrition & Health Articles

A great body is made in the kitchen AND in the gym. What you eat and the nutritional products you use play a very big part in how much fat you carry anywhere on your body and how your body responds to exercise – whether you are trying to lose weight, tone up, gain muscle or just stay healthy.

The problem is, what nutritional products and protein powders should you be investing in? The majority are filled with unpronounceable chemicals and artificial sweeteners and we wouldn’t recommend them. We promote eating food as natural and unprocessed as possible.

Here is a list of our three favorite protein powders (ones we personally use) to take the guesswork out of what to buy. We trawled through Amazon to find the best prices and the best suppliers for you.

This content uses referral links. Read our disclosure policy for more info.


Nature’s Plus Source of Life Energy Drink is amazingly good. It tastes so great that even kids like to drink it and it’s packed full of vitamins and minerals that really boost energy levels through the roof (don’t drink it before going to bed). It’s been a staple in our home for nearly 12 years.

Standard Process is a brand known for its integrity and clean ingredients. It’s usually available only through doctors and nutritionists so we were very happy to find Standard Process Whey Pro Complete available at Amazon. It doesn’t have added flavor and there’s nothing artificial in it. This is the protein powder we use every day.

Optimum Nutrition Natural Vanilla Protein Powder is a healthier version of your classic high-protein mixes. It tastes good and blends well with whatever fruit you like to mix in your shakes. It’s also great on its own over oatmeal or blended in water. It comes in a giant pack.

Here’s a classic question people ask of personal trainers: “What exercise will help me get rid of the fat on my belly?” (while lifting up a shirt and squeezing the offending piece of flesh).

The answer: “There is no one exercise that will get rid of your belly fat. You can do as much ab work as you like, but if you don’t also change how you’re eating, that fat will stay there no matter how awesome your abdominal muscles may be.”

So, get busy and fix up your diet while you continue with regular workouts to get the body your want.

Tracey Marashlian

Eating Diatomaceous Earth

If you told me a year ago that I would be eating earth right now I would have rolled my eyes. I’ve heard of just about everything – some new mothers eat their placenta, lots of people here in Los Angeles eat only raw food, many people eat only vegetable-based food, but eating earth?

To be specific, earth in this context is actually diatomaceous earth (DE) and I came across it when an old friend told me how much more energetic he’s been feeling since he started taking it daily. Before this conversation, I thought DE was only something used for swimming pool filters.

Being someone curious about anything that helps improve health and well-being for myself, my family and the people I work with, I did some research and discovered some very interesting and exciting things about DE.

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

diatomaceous earthDiatomaceous earth is made up of fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. It comes as a fine white powder and it is made up of 80 to 90% silica. There are two types – food grade (safe for human consumption) and industrial grade ( NOT safe for human consumption). While food grade DE is safe to consume, DE of any kind is not safe to breathe.

Some wonderful qualities of diatomaceous earth:

- At a microscopic level, DE looks like a bunch of hollow cylinders with holes punched in the sides (see the picture above)

- Because DE has a strong negative charge, when it’s taken internally it attracts and absorbs positively-charged toxins and pathogens into its cylinder – things like viruses, pathogenic fungi and bacteria, heavy metals, prescription drug residues, pesticides, parasites, radiation – and sweeps them out of our bodies

- DE is very hard (almost as hard as diamonds) and each microscopic piece has sharp edges. It acts to scrub away the packed-on residues we have in our digestive tract and organisms like parasites in our intestines are sliced up and killed then flushed out when we go to the loo

- Remember how DE is 80 to 90% silica? Well, life cannot exist without silica. It’s essential for building healthy bones, teeth, skin, hair and nails. You could call it the beauty mineral and you wouldn’t be wrong. It also helps to strengthen tendons and joints, so it’s very important for active people

And that’s not all, use diatomaceous earth as a safe insecticide

- Do you have ants? Sprinkle some dry DE (wet DE doesn’t work well) along ant trails and wherever they are entering your home. The fine powder absorbs fats from the waxy outer layer of the ants’ exoskeletons causing them to dehydrate and die. We used it very successfully in our home this summer. Toxin-free ant bait, yes please!

- You can use it as a treatment for lice and fleas (it works the same way as in the case of ants), just make sure not to breathe it

Two Simple Ways to Take Diatomaceous Earth

The first is the way I started with DE. Put a tablespoon of DE into a glass, add water, mix well and drink it down quickly. It tastes like chalk so you might want to chase it down with some extra water.

Here is a much more delicious way to take DE:

The Earth Smoothie

INGREDIENTS:  Diatomaceous Earth Smoothie

1/4 cup frozen berries

1 cup almond, rice or hemp milk

1 tablespoon diatomaceous earth

1 tablespoon flax seed (linseed) meal

1 scoop of your favorite protein powder, I use Standard Process Whey

METHOD:

Place all ingredients into your blender. Blend on high. Serve in a glass and enjoy right away.

Below is a link to the diatomaceous earth we have been using (from Amazon,com). If you get the 20lb box they offer free shipping.

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Pepped-up Sweet Potato Pancakes

February 18, 2014 by  
Filed under Articles, Healthy Recipes, Nutrition & Health Articles

Looking for a unique healthy breakfast that doesn’t include cereal, sugar or toast? I created these yummy Pepped-up Sweet Potato Pancakes one day when I had some leftover baked sweet potatoes and I felt like something more substantial for breakfast than eggs on their own but I didn’t want to indulge in the empty calories of toast to fill me up. They are colorful, gluten-free and easy to make. I hope you enjoy them.

This recipe makes 2 servings

Ingredients for Pepped-up Sweet Potato Pancakes

1 medium baked sweet potato, skin on (I usually bake several sweet potatoes at a time and have them ready to use in the refrigerator)

3 whole eggs

2 tablespoons almond meal (you can make this yourself by popping almonds into a blender and pulsing them until they look like course flour)

2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese (I used light feta from Trader Joe’s but any good feta will do)

A couple of handfuls of arugula (rocket lettuce)

Method

Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat them with a fork, add the almond meal then chop the sweet potato and mash it into the egg mix. Stir until everything is well combined. Stir in the feta and arugula.

Heat a frying pan to a medium heat (not too hot or your pancakes will burn), use a little olive oil or a smear of butter then spoon in the sweet potato pancake batter to create cakes about 4 inches in diameter (too large and they are difficult to flip). Flip them once they are firm on the bottom and make sure they cook on both sides.

Serve with a little low fat Greek yogurt, season as you see fit. Delicious!

Super Powered Raw Oatmeal – Healthy Fast Food Breakfast

Here’s the back story of how I came up with my Super Powered Raw Oatmeal recently.

While on a quest to go sugar-free and wheat-free I faced the problem of what to eat for a fast breakfast that didn’t include bread of any kind. I wanted something healthy, organic, and preferably uncooked. I also wanted a healthy balance of protein, fiber, carbs and fats. The other very important factor; it had to be fast food. Fast food in terms of taking very little time to prepare, because we usually have about ten minutes to eat in the mornings.

I found what I was looking for:

Super Powered Raw Oatmeal

This recipe makes 8 servings so you only have to put it together once, then store it in the refrigerator for use at breakfast time throughout the week.

Ingredients

2 cups organic steel cut oats

2 cups organic light coconut milk

1 tablespoon organic chia seeds

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground ginger

Toppings:

1/8 cup dried cranberries

1 scoop whey powder, or other protein powder depending on your preferences (I use Standard Process Whey protein Complete). You could substitute this for 1/2 cup of almond, hemp, rice or other milk

1/8 cup raw almonds

Method

Make the super powered raw oatmeal the night before you need it. Put all of the ingredients (not including the toppings) in a glass container and mix well. You want to make sure the spices are well distributed. Put a lid on the container (the snap-lock containers work really well for this) and pop it in the fridge.

In the morning, use a butter knife and divide the super powered raw oatmeal into 8 equal servings and then spoon out your serving. Add the toppings (you can get inventive here, these are just my suggestions) and enjoy your healthy fast food breakfast.

Total Calories

With protein powder it is about 230 calories. With almond milk instead of protein powder it is about 220 calories. Not only healthy, but low in calories as well.

Low Calorie Spring Roll Recipe

A few weekends ago I was at a dinner party thrown by our friend Shei Lu. It was a lot of fun, not only because of the great company, but also because Shie Lu had us help her in the kitchen.

That night I learned how to make two new dishes. One, fresh spring rolls, a healthy appetizer. The other, (chocolate ganache), not as healthy although it’s super delicious and a great accompaniment to raw strawberries (which are very healthy).

Great For Bodybuilders and Dieters

Each spring roll nets you about 60 calories so they are great if you’re trying to lose fat. Bodybuilders out there could substitute a couple of these for rice as a taste treat to break up the monotony. You’d probably want to skip the sauce as it does contain sugar and go easy on the sesame oil and soy sauce in the vermicelli noodles.

Low Calorie Spring Roll Recipe

making low calorie spring rolls

A spring roll meal fit for a bodybuilder

Here’s the recipe for spring rolls (I added tofu but you could make it with vegetables alone (which is how we made it with Shei Lu) or you could replace the tofu with cooked and peeled shrimp (or prawns for the Aussies out there).

INGREDIENTS:

1 package of clear edible rice paper (I found a good supply at my local Korean market)

1 package of firm tofu (I used the Trader Joe’s organic sprouted tofu) cut into rectangles about the size of a little finger

1 bunch of fresh cilantro (or coriander for the Australians) finely chopped

2 cucumbers sliced into straws (julienne)

1 large carrot sliced like the cucumbers

1 mango peeled, de-seeded and sliced like the cucumbers

1 package of vermicelli rice noodles cooked according to package directions, drained and cooled

a splash of sesame oil

a splash of soy sauce

INGREDIENTS FOR THE SAUCE:

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

finely sliced chili

diced garlic and coriander

DIRECTIONS:

1. Add a splash each of soy sauce and sesame oil to the cooked and drained rice vermicelli noodles, toss until noodles are all covered evenly and set aside

2. Dip a round of rice paper into a flat pan of clean water. Let it soak until it’s soft then with both hands carefully lay it on a clean surface

making low calorie spring rolls

Lift soaked rice paper gently from water

3. On one edge, lay some chopped cilantro then place a rectangle of tofu (or some shrimp) and some carrot, cucumber and mango then the vermicelli noodles on top

making low calorie spring rolls

Lay cilantro, tofu, vegetables and noodles

4. Roll the rice paper wrapper, tucking in the sides until you have a neat package that doesn’t fall apart. Lay it on a serving dish

making low calorie spring rolls

Roll the rice paper package carefully

5. Continue with this until you have used your ingredients. If you have left overs, cover and refrigerate to make more spring rolls later.

FOR THE SAUCE:

Put the rice vinegar into a bowl along with the sugar. Beat until the sugar is fully dissolved then add the chili, garlic and cilantro

Serve the spring rolls with the sauce to dip. Don’t expect to store left-overs as they tend to go hard in the refrigerator. They really are best freshly made.

For added fun, have your guests help with making their spring rolls.

I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

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Supplements – Do I Really Need Them?

July 16, 2013 by  
Filed under Articles, Nutrition & Health Articles

Supplements - Do I Really Need Them?

My supplements

My daughter did a college nutrition course a couple of years ago and was told, as I was twenty-four years earlier, that if you have a healthy well-balanced diet you don’t need extra vitamins and minerals.

We work hard to keep our food as fresh as possible and as organic as possible (the nutrition professor also told our daughter that it doesn’t matter whether your food is organic or not but we disagree; who needs extra pesticide in their bodies?). We also take supplemental vitamins and minerals. If what we are taught about the nutritional value of food in school is true, why do we bother?

Here is some data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) showing the difference in nutritional value of some fruits and vegetables since 1975 that might explain why I choose to take supplements:

  • Apples: Vitamin A is down 41%
  • Sweet peppers: Vitamin C is down 31%
  • Watercress: Iron is down 88%
  • Broccoli: Calcium and vitamin A are down 50%
  • Cauliflower: Vitamin C is down 45%; vitamin B1 is down 48%, and vitamin B2 is down 47%
  • Collard greens: Magnesium is down 85%

Do I really need my supplements? Yes, I believe I do.

Thanks to Tom Grimshaw for sharing the stats from the USDA in his weekly newsletter.

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Easy No-bake Brownies

April 20, 2013 by  
Filed under Articles, Nutrition & Health Articles

Who doesn’t like brownies? I LOVE them, but rarely eat them because they are usually packed with sugar and are way too fatty. That was before, now I have a brownie treat nearly every day and I’m going to share my secret with you because these little beauties are just too good to keep to myself.

First, let me say, this recipe has no added sugar and no added fat! It’s also really easy to make, taking about 15 minutes to whip together.

These brownies are packed with antioxidants and fiber. They have potassium and iron, vitamin E and omega 3 fatty acids (the healthy fats).

The recipe makes about 12 servings, each giving about 175 calories of energy and a giant mouthful of flavor.

You will need a food processor.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups of raw walnuts

16 pitted dates (I get the the medjool dates)

1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder (or, better yet, raw cacao powder)

1/4 cup raw cacao nibs (optional, the brownies taste great without but these add a powerful antioxidant blast)

METHOD:

Put all ingredients into the food processor in the order listed. Mix them together then press the mix firmly into a tray, cover and refrigerate for about an hour.

Cut into 12 equal pieces and enjoy with a nice cup of tea or coffee (I love rooibos tea as a caffein-free alternative).

You can keep them refrigerated for a week or so (they usually don’t last any longer than that in our house). I hope you like them as much as I do.

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Exercise – Better Than Drugs For Depression

February 13, 2013 by  
Filed under Articles, Nutrition & Health Articles

The Value of Exercise

Here’s some pretty awesome scientific information on the value of exercise, not just for maintaining a healthier body but also a healthier mind.

Depression is apparently on the rise (if you believe the media and associated  pharmaceutical marketing campaigns) and the go-to treatment is ordinarily to medicate using drugs like Bupropian, Citalopram or Duloxetine – drugs that have serious side-effects including anxiety, shaking, severe headaches, seizures, severe skin reactions, jaundice, high fevers, blood pressure fluctuations, cardiac arrhythmia, and even sudden death.

In scientific studies conducted between 1999 and 2009 comparing groups of people who regularly exercise with those who were medicated using the current medication procedures, the effectiveness of exercise in overcoming depressive symptoms was found to be as effective as medication.

That’s a big statement.

What’s more, people who continue to exercise regularly have lower rates of depressive relapse in the future than people using medication.

Exercise helps beat depression

Beat the blues with exercise

How Much Exercise Kills Depression?

Even modest levels of exercise are beneficial. Three sessions per week of 30 to 45 minutes per session is sufficient (according to these studies) to reduce depression and 90 minutes a week is sufficient to reduce the risk of relapse.

Most of the studies focused on aerobic exercise (running, walking, swimming, dancing, skipping, anything that will raise the heart rate and can be done for an extended period of time) up to 30 or 45 minutes at a time. Several also found evidence that resistance training (using free weights, machines, body weight, bands and so on) is also beneficial.

So, if you’re feeling down, save yourself some money and a lot of life-threatening side-effects and start exercising – it’s way healthier than putting artificial and potentially dangerous chemicals into your body.

Join a gym, hire a good trainer, take some exercise classes, start taking the dog or your kids for walks. Whatever it takes to get you moving and active for at least 90 minutes a week (that’s about as long as most people spend watching TV in one night).

References:

Blumenthal JA, Babyak MA, Moore KA, Craighead WE, Herman S, Khatri P, et al. Effects of exercise training on older patients with major depression. Ach. Intern Med. 1999;159(19):2349-56.

Drum AL, Trivedi MH, Kampert JB, Clark GC, Chambliss HO. Exercise treatment for depression: efficacy and dose response. Am J Prev Med. 2005:28(1):1-8.

Mead GE, Morely W, Campbell P, Greig CA, McMurdo M, Lawler DA. Exercise for depression. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009(3):CD004366.

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The Best Kale Salad – Secret Revealed!

December 18, 2012 by  
Filed under Articles, Healthy Recipes, Nutrition & Health Articles

Whenever I am asked to bring a dish to a party or gathering I always bring my kale salad. It’s become quite well-known in various parts of Los Angeles and I have people asking for the recipe every time they try it because it not only looks fabulous, it tastes amazing! So amazing that most people want second helpings.

Here’s a dish that is as good for you as it looks and tastes. One you can pig out on to your heart’s content and never feel guilty.

Tracey’s Terrific Kale Salad

SALAD INGREDIENTS:

1 bunch of fresh, organic kale. Remove the stems then clean  and slice

1/3 cup of dried cranberries

1/3 cup of toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds or toasted pine nuts

2 organic Roma tomatoes cut into wedges

DRESSING INGREDIENTS:

1/8 cup good olive oil

1/8 cup organic cider vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

Salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

Put the salad ingredients into a salad bowl. Put the dressing ingredients into a bottle and shake vigorously to blend.  Add the dressing to the salad at least a hour before serving (this is one salad that gets better the longer you leave the dressing on it) then toss to combine everything.

Serve it up and watch as everyone happily gobbles it up then asks for the recipe (send them to our website to save yourself the trouble of writing it down).

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Exercise And Detoxification

October 4, 2012 by  
Filed under Articles, Nutrition & Health Articles

Are You Marinating In Your Own Waste?

This past weekend we were at a seminar delivered by Dan Owen, an outspoken adventurer and proponent of regular exercise. He made a point about the importance of exercise in helping the lymphatic system remove wastes that went something like this – if you don’t exercise regularly you’re basically swimming in your own toilet. Blunt, descriptive and on-the-mark.

Marinating in Your Own Waste?

People mostly think they should exercise to lose weight or to enhance the health of their cardiovascular system (heart, lungs, arteries, veins and so on). They rarely think about exercise in context with removing waste from their bodies, and yet a quick study of the lymphatic system proves that without regular movement you truly are sitting in your own bodily wastes – a revolting thought.

The Lymphatic System: A Simple Description

The lymphatic system is a series of organs, vessels and nodes that transport lymph throughout the body. Lymph is a clear liquid containing white blood cells that fight infection. It is very similar to plasma found in the blood. Together with the circulatory system, the lymphatic system works to remove wastes from the body.

About 90% of cellular waste is picked up and removed by the blood returning to the heart via veins. The remaining 10% is left to the lymphatic system to remove. This includes excess fluid, dead blood cells, pathogens, cancer cells and toxins – all things you definitely don’t want left building up in your body. The lymphatic system has its own set of vessels similar to the circulatory system.

Tracey's Version of the Lymph System

The vessels that pick up the cellular waste are called lymphatic capillaries. They move the lymph (and wastes) through progressively larger vessels until it reaches the subclavian veins at the base of the neck and re-enters the blood stream as plasma. While the lymph travels through the body it passes through lymph nodes of which there are about 600. Each filters the lymph fluid and contains white blood cells that kill pathogens.

Unlike veins, however, the lymphatic system isn’t helped along by a beating heart – it has no pump and relies on muscular movement to continue working efficiently.

Why Exercise Is Critical To Detoxification

This means that if you don’t exercise – run, jump, walk, do weights, dance, stretch and move – your lymphatic system is not removing toxins. You are swimming in your own waste and probably feeling less than healthy.

Another awesome reason to get active and exercise.

If you would like more information or some help getting started or perfecting your exercise routine, feel free to contact us at rudi.m@ca.rr.com – we’re happy to answer your questions about fitness and exercise.

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