Pumpkin Turkey Chili

Pumpkin Turkey Chili

This is my all-time favorite fall recipe, as it’s a twist on a classic and serves as delicious comfort food. I used this original recipe from Larissa Another Day blog and put my own twist on it (along with J.P.’s influence). I’ve been making it every fall, at least 2-3 times per season, for the last 6 years now. The pumpkin puree and spices are very subtle, so they don’t alter the traditional chili flavor profile too much. If anything, they ADD creaminess and warmth to the dish. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Servings: 4

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 70 minutes

Total time: 75 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chopped yellow onion
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 Tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup bone broth
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Optional toppings: sour cream, goat cheese (or another variety), chopped jalapeƱos, cilantro, green onions

Instructions

  1. Warm a large stock pot over medium heat. Add olive oil, followed by the chopped yellow onion. Toss to coat and cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Add ground turkey and spices. Cook for 6 more minutes, or until turkey is nearly cooked (but not all the way). Occasionally break up and stir.
  3. Add halved grape tomatoes (or can of diced tomatoes). Cook for 2 minutes, stirring as needed.
  4. Add the bone broth, kidney beans, pumpkin puree, and hot sauce. Stir until combined. Bring to a boil then simmer, covered, for 60 minutes.
  5. Serve 1 cup with toppings of choice (goat cheese is incredible!), then sprinkle with black pepper.
  6. Cozy up, put on a fall flick, and enjoy every bite!

Let me know what you think please! I value your feedback on my work and recipes, as I want to grow and adapt as needed. Thank you for the follow and read!

All my best, ā¤ Danielle

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

You know those meals that just taste like the season you’re in? Well, I know this dish doesn’t contain the popular kids at the moment (apples or pumpkins), but this Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash absolutely oozes autumnal flavors! The cranberries, sage and maple infuses the quinoa mixture that you then stuff the roasted acorn squash with- just heavenly! Did I mention I added cumin spiced ground turkey as a protein? Oh ya! This is optional, of course. I will definitely be making this again before fall is over, and I hope you enjoy it just as much as I do!

Servings: 4

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 40 minutes

Total time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 acorn squashes
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup dry quinoa (any color- I used tricolor)
  • 1/4 cup sliced yellow onion
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • Fresh sage (about 10 leaves)
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp vegan chicken-less seasoning from TJs (or a blend of sea salt, onion and garlic powder, turmeric, celery seed, ginger powder, and pepper)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with oil.. Cut the very ends of each squash, but not too deep. This is meant to stabilize the squash to sit upright in the oven. Continue by cutting the squash in half, parallel to the cut you just made. Scoop out the middle with seeds- enough to stuff but not too much so you have enough squash to dig into!
  2. Brush the squash liberally with olive oil, then season with a few pinches of salt and grinds of black pepper.
  3. Roast for 40 minutes, or until a fork easily breaks the meat.
  4. While that’s cooking, bring a medium sized pot with 2 3/4 cups water to a boil. Rinse 1 cup quinoa then add to boiling water. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or whatever the package instructions reads. Once done, drain in colander and transfer to a large bowl.
  5. Warm 1 large sautƩ pan over medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil. When warmed, add the sliced onions. Cook for 3-4 minute before adding the ground turkey, followed by the cumin, chicken-less seasoning (or alternative), and cinnamon. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Cook for about 7-8 minutes (or when turkey is nearly cooked but not completely), stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the sliced (chiffonade) sage, cranberries and garlic. Let cook for 2-3 minutes longer.
  7. Add this turkey mixture in the quinoa, along with 2 tsp maple syrup. Mix well.
  8. When the acorn squash is done. Remove from the oven. Stuff each squash with quinoa mix. Crumble feta on top of each before serving (I also added a few pieces of fresh sage for an elevated kick!), and you’ve got yourself an amazing fall dish!

*NOTE* Acorn squash vary in size, and the room you have for the quinoa mixture also depends on the hole you scooped. If the well is smaller then you’d like, add some quinoa mixture on the side for more bites! Omgosh it’s soooo good. Bon Appetit!

5 Nutrients That Support Your Menstrual Phase

5 Nutrients That Support Your Menstrual Phase

Let me be clear. All nutrients are beneficial and serve their purpose at different times. I am also a big proponent of individualized nutrition based on what a person’s specific needs are. With that said, these 5 nutrients are my personal findings and round up of what can help most women with various symptoms during their menstrual phase.

Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that has been shown to reduce symptoms for both PMS and menopause. During your luteal and menstrual phases, a magnesium supplement, foods rich in magnesium, and even magnesium oil or lotion can help relax the smooth muscles of your uterus, decrease inflammatory prostaglandins (the hormone-like lipids that cause contractions and cramps), reduce headaches and breast tenderness, and even help curb sugar cravings.

In terms of hormonal balance, magnesium is needed for the production of TSH, thyroid stimulating hormone, which is responsible for your body’s metabolism. In addition, it aids in blood sugar balance and estrogen detoxification. Women with PCOS are 19 times more likely to be magnesium-deficient, and those with diabetes or an autoimmune disease are also at high risk for deficiency.

Women want to aim for 400mg of magnesium per day.

Here are some food sources rich in magnesium:Ā 

  • pumpkin seeds
  • almonds
  • spinach
  • cashews
  • soymilk
  • black beans
  • edamame
  • dark chocolate

As for supplements, magnesium in the forms of aspartate, citrate, lactate, and chloride are more bioavailable and readily absorbed than magnesium oxide and sulfate. I was just recommended magnesium oil from Ancient Minerals and will report back after a few months of using it.

Omega 3s

Omega 3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that can help with bloating, uterine inflammation, migraines, and even mood swings. In a study of women with polycystic ovary syndrome and irregular periods, an omega 3 supplement was given at 3g/day for 8 weeks. This resulted in decreased elevated testosterone and androgen levels with a regulation of menses in the omega 3 group.

In another study, women took 1,000mg of fish oil/day. The experimental group reported less menstrual pain than the comparative group who took the pain reliever, ibuprofen.

Here are some food sources rich in omega-3s:Ā 

  • fish (salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, and mackerel)
  • nuts and seeds
  • fortified foods (I have been using this Silk oat, almond, and pea milk blend infused with DHA omega-3s!)

Zinc

Supplementing with 30mg of zinc 1-3x daily during your luteal and menstrual phases can significantly reduce (if not manage or eradicate dysmenorrhea- period pain!). Zinc can also block androgen production, such as testosterone, which helps in treating acne and reducing excess facial hair.

Here are some food sources rich in zinc:Ā 

  • oysters
  • shellfish (crab and lobster)
  • red meat (I recommend organic, grass fed and pasture-raised)
  • legumes
  • nuts and seeds- especially pumpkin seeds!
  • eggs
  • whole grains

B vitamins, specifically B6 and B12

It’s a toss up between which B vitamin is more important to focus on. Both B6 (pyridoxine) and B12 (cobalamin) can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, which as we know can be rampant during our luteal and menstrual phases. Here are the main contributors of each.

B6 can help regulate periods, so if your cycle is irregular, I would recommend incorporating foods that contain more of this B vitamin. B6 also helps minimize bloating and has the ability to produce amino acids, which is needed more during your bleed for replenishment and to avoid muscle catabolism.

Here are some food sources rich in B6:Ā 

  • pork.
  • poultry, such asĀ chickenĀ or turkey
  • some fish (cod, salmon, halibut, trout, tuna and snapper)
  • peanuts
  • soyĀ beans
  • wheatgerm
  • oats
  • bananas

B12 largely contributes to red blood cell formation, which is also crucial during this time.Since we are losing blood and iron, new red blood cells are needed to help carry oxygen throughout the body and keep energy levels high.

Here are some food sources rich in B12:Ā 

  • meat
  • poultry
  • fish
  • eggs milk

Iron

Last but not least is iron. About 70% of our body’s iron is found in red blood cells. When we bleed during menses, we lose blood and, therefore, red blood cells and iron. It is important to replenish this mineral, as to avoid iron depletion or anemia. Women need approximately 1.8 mg of iron/day. If you donate blood, you lose about 200 mg of iron, and those breastfeeding and postpartum can lose up to 700 mg. Breastfeeding mamas need to increase their iron intake by 0.5-1mg/day.

P.S. Iron is better absorbed in the company of vitamin C, so add peppers, citrus juice, broccoli or tomatoes to your meals with iron-containing foods. Using iron pots can also increase iron levels! We only absorbed 10-30% of iron, so keep that in mind when measuring and accounting for your food.Ā 

Here are some food sources rich in iron:Ā 

  • lean beef
  • veal
  • poultry
  • pork
  • lamb
  • liver
  • fish and shellfish
  • greens
  • tofu
  • lima beans
  • legumes and lentils

Summary

Upping your nutrient consumption game is a great strategy in preventing or treating PMS and menstrual symptoms. From the abundance of research I’ve been doing lately on women’s health (specifically nutrition and phases of the cycle), I found magnesium, omega 3s, zinc, B vitamins (B6 + B12), and iron to be some of the most crucial in alleviating unwanted cramps, headaches, lethargy, acne and more while also replenishing the body with the fuel it needs to process and recover best.

If you have basic nutrition questions, I can answer those for you, but hang on tight for when I become licensed in February to better serve your personal needs. Xo Danielle

Disclaimer:Ā TheĀ medical/healthĀ information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. We do not provide any kind ofĀ medical/healthĀ advice. THE USE OR RELIANCE OF ANY INFORMATION CONTAINED ON THIS SITEĀ OR OUR MOBILE APPLICATIONĀ IS SOLELY AT YOUR OWN RISK.

 

5 Nutrients to Support Your Period

Premenstrual and menstrual symptoms can be less than manageable. Heck, I know plenty of women who have such debilitating symptoms, they’ve taken off school or work at some point. That’s crazy. We should be able to use those days for a mental health reset or when we’re actually sick with other illnesses. So, how can we begin to minimize and alleviate these symptoms to save our sick and PTO days?Ā Nutrition is one of the large pieces to completing this puzzle. Let’s take a closer look.

1. Water

Did you know that water is a nutrient? It sure is! It’s okay if you didn’t, but is it that much of a surprise? We NEED water to survive, and our bodies are made of 60-70% of the stuff! When we are properly hydrated during our periods, we decrease our chances of cramping. This is because we aren’t retaining water and decrease bloating. Water can also help with muscle function, which the uterus is! (well, partly).

2. Omega-3s

Consuming foods high in omega 3s (fatty fish like salmon and tuna, flaxseeds, chia seeds, soybeans, etc.) has been proven to reduce menstrual pain, help with depression and mood swings, and is a great support for brain health which may help with lessening the incidence of headaches!Ā¹

3. Turmeric

Turmeric is a bright yellow spice known for its unique flavor in Middle Eastern dishes, its anti-inflammatory properties, and its ability to be used as a clothing dye. Ya, it stained my nails from dinner last night…the only downside, but I digress. The antioxidant compound in turmeric is called curcumin. In larger doses, curcumin has been shown to reduce oxidative muscle damage and aid in healing and recovery by decreasing inflammation. This can help with period cramps since the uterus is a muscular organ.

*HOT TIPS* If you don’t like the taste of turmeric, you can purchase a turmeric supplement. Just make sure that black pepper (pepperdine) is present in the formula because it makes it more bioavailable and easier to absorb for us! Same goes for when you are cooking with turmeric or even make a turmeric “golden” latte- add a pinch of pepper!

4. Iron

Iron is the number one nutrient women are deficient in, partially because we lose iron when we menstruate through blood. Here are some great food sources to add to your diet to receive proper amounts of iron:

  • grass-fed beef
  • lentils & legumes
  • shellfish
  • liver & organ meats
  • turkey
  • spinach
  • broccoli
  • dark chocolate
  • tofuĀ¹

**HOT TIP** consuming vitamin C increases iron bioavailability. Example: bell peppers with tofu- yum!

5. Magnesium

Studies have shown that magnesium both eases period cramps and decreases the prostaglandins (lipids that act like hormones) that cause those contractions and cramping. So not only does magnesium alleviate the symptoms, but it addresses one of the root causes.

Foods high in magnesium include:

  • pumpkin seeds
  • almonds
  • spinach
  • cashews
  • dark chocolate
  • avocado
  • nuts and seeds
  • tofu
  • whole grainsĀ²

Nutrition can greatly influence how our body operates and feels, with menstrual symptoms being no exception. Water, omega 3s, turmeric, iron, and magnesium are nutrients that can aid in cramp and unfavorable symptom reduction. Please consult with your doctor if you are currently taking any medications to avoid food/drug interactions, and feel free to reach out with questions with how to incorporate these into your diet!

Disclaimer: TheĀ medical/healthĀ information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. We do not provide any kind ofĀ medical/healthĀ advice. THE USE OR RELIANCE OF ANY INFORMATION CONTAINED ON THIS SITEĀ OR OUR MOBILE APPLICATIONĀ IS SOLELY AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Resources

1.Ferguson, S. (2019, July 16). What to Eat During Your Period: Fish, Leafy Greens, Yogurt, and More. Retrieved August 04, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/what-to-eat-during-period

2.Ā Spritzler, F. (n.d.). 10 Magnesium-Rich Foods That Are Super Healthy. Retrieved August 04, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-foods-high-in-magnesium

šŸŒµNemi “Cactus” Holisticks šŸŒµ

šŸŒµNemi “Cactus” Holisticks šŸŒµ

Regina Trillo. She is the woman so brilliantly responsible for the creation of Nemi “Cactus” Holisticks. You heard that right- cactus sticks for snacks! šŸŒµšŸ˜‹Ā And boy are they DELICIOUS + NUTRITIOUS! šŸ™ŒšŸ¼

I discovered Nemi at my local boutique grocer that carries local and artisanal foods and beverages. I absolutely love exploring there. Intrigued by the packaging, I picked up a snack-size bag of Nemi earlier this spring, and I read “plant-powered crunch snack made from cactus and amaranth”. I was SOLD on the spot. I am a sucker for trying new foods, and I had never had cactus before!

It was love at first bite of the Spirulina + Lime flavored bag. I have tried every flavor since, and I’ve seen her business grow in popularity over the last few months. She just received an award that “recognized [her] as a business helping to build a more equitable society” AND she is Chicago-based! Win win win win win, imo.

On a scale of 1-10 with explanations, hereā€™s what I rated each category of this product.

Texture: 10/10

If you like crunchy snacks (I’m not sure who doesn’t), you will LOVE the audible *crunch* you get from these snack sticks! They are the perfect balance between having resistance and that easy to bite factor. No one wants a snack that makes you worry about your teeth now. Plus, the exterior is coated in amaranth and other healthy and sustainable-sourced ingredients, which gives it a bit of grainy texture. Swoon!

 

Flavor: Depends on the flavor we’re talking about…but the average was a 9!

Spirulina + Lime: 9/10

Smoky Chipotle: 10/10

Churro- Date and Cinnamon: 7/10

Chili + Turmeric: 8/10

Hokay! So obviously my favorite lava flavor is the Smoky Chipotle. It’s what’s pictured on the cover photo and pairs PERFECTLY with the sriracha tahini sauce. Honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing about the flavor profile.

The Spirulina + Lime is right up my alley too, not just with those ingredients, but the pop of citrus in your mouth with every bite! Wowsa! I knocked off a point because I wanted to taste a touch more of the spirulina. Although, i can see how that would be difficult to incorporate without messing with the other ingredients.

Churro- Date and Cinnamon- Not my cup of tea. I was accustomed to the savory delivery of the first two, so I didn’t expect nor welcome a sweet cactus stick. I could taste the attempt of a churro flavor, but it just didn’t do it for me. It was too sweet and didn’t really meld well with the crunchiness and nature of the dehydrated cactus sticks. When I think of churros, I think warm and soft with a slight crust of an outside, so I wouldn’t get this flavor again.

Chili + Turmeric was pretty good too. I wish it was as strong as the chipotle kick and you could detect a little more of the turmeric without that being overpowering. Once again, could be difficult to find this balance.

 

Nutrition Profile: 9/10

Calories: 150 kcal / bag- amazing for a small + quick snack! I do wish the bag was just a bit bigger though. I want more cactus goodness!

Fat: 3.5g/bagā€“ No sat fat and comes from the chia seeds + flaxseed oil. Great sources of healthy fats!

Carbs: 20g/bag ā€“Amazing!

Protein: 6g/bag ā€“Can you say macro boner?

Fiber: 4g/bag ā€“ How can this nutrition profile for a crunchy snack get any better?

Added sugars: fricken zilch!

*Plus, 2mg iron + 57.1mg potassium šŸ™‚

Hereā€™s a screenshot of the baseline ingredients:

Screen Shot 2020-07-31 at 3.41.05 PM

Ingredients vary depending on the flavor, but I admire Nemi’s transparency with real and sustainably-sourced whole food ingredients. Nopal, the type of cactus used, is actually regarded forĀ lowering blood sugar, healing wounds, and reducing cholesterol by Medical News Today, so the health benefits are pretty great!

Cost: 9/10

You can buy a 6-pack of these snack bags on their site for $24.00, so itā€™s roughly $4/bag. It’s a little pricey for a quick snack, BUT, you get what you pay for in this case. The ingredients are stellar and you’ll be supporting a female-owned, Latina, Chicago-based company friends!

 

Overall Score: 9/10!

 

I cannot recommend Nemi Holisticks enough. The founder, Regina, is a doll and is a strong, Latina looking to promote cultural health food. She is the embodiment of #womensupportingwomen and truly cares and engages with her customers. And can I please stress the deliciousness of these unique-as-hell cactus sticks?! Order them NOW! You won’t be disappointed- promise. šŸ˜‰

Let’s Talk About PMS.

PMS. It is the dreaded acronym to every woman who has ever experienced it. PMS stands for Premenstrual Syndrome. It is a condition that can alter your emotional, mental, physiological AND physical states. Did you know that PMS symptoms are not normal? I didn’t either up until this past year. I bought into the story we’re told as young girls that PMS is part of it all. This is FALSE! Think about it. Our bodies are so intricately designed to perform on an optimal cellular level to keep us alive. Why would it fail us when it comes to reproductive health?

Pre-, meaning before, and menstrual, meaning your period, means that PMS is experienced the week leading up to your bleed. Signs and symptoms can range from mood swings to extreme physical discomfort. Refer to the list below for the slew of possible signs and symptoms.

Signs & Symptoms of PMS

  • mood swings
  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • bloating
  • acne
  • abdominal pain or discomfort
  • sore breasts
  • food cravings
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • heightened senses to light, smell, taste
  • skin sensitivity
  • fatigue
  • trouble sleeping
  • depression
  • behavioral changesĀ¹

*Among many others. PMS has been associated with nearly 200 hundred signs and symptoms! Every woman experiences this differently.

On average, 47.8% of women experience chronic PMS symptoms. The highest recorded prevalence rate was 98%.Ā²

These numbers are staggeringly high for a syndrome that shouldn’t be making an appearance at all, let alone every 21 days. So what is the cause of PMS that is plaguing women on a global scale?

Possible Causes of PMS

  • hormonal fluctuations/imbalances
  • neurotransmitter changes
  • anemia
  • endometriosis
  • thyroid disease
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • connective tissue or rheumatologic diseasesĀ¹
  • eating disorders
  • vitamin or mineral deficiencies

Ways To Treat Symptoms

  1. First and foremost, you know I’m going to suggest reevaluating your diet. Removing or minimizing fast food, foods high in sodium and saturated fats, sugar, caffeine and alcohol should be your first move. It doesn’t sound fun, but let’s focus on what you can ADD to your diet. Adding foods that are rich in magnesium, calcium, and B vitamins have been shown to reduce PMS symptoms.

These foods include:

  • dark chocolate (woohoo! Just make sure it’s over 70% and low in sugar)
  • avocado
  • spinach
  • almonds
  • sunflower seeds
  • salmon
  • wheat germ
  • black cohosh (a medicinal root, also found as a supplement, shown in some studies to help relieve menopause and PMS symptoms)
  • low-sugar yogurt
  • citrus fruits
  • bananas
  • brown rice
  • shellfish
  • legumes

Just to name a few…

2. Secondly, moving your body can help relieve symptoms, boost endorphins, and even metabolize excess estrogen that could be the culprit of some symptoms. Walking or doing light yoga is ideal during this time of your cycle, but you choose a form of movement that feels good for you.

3. Drunk up, buttercup! Staying hydrated can help with bloating, water retention, and abdominal pain. Aim to drink 1mL for every calorie you consume, or from 1,500-2,000mL (1.5-2L) per day.

4. Mayo Clinic suggests acupuncture as an alternative treatment to relieve symptoms.Ā³ (I can’t wait to try this).

5. Reduce stress to decrease cortisol levels, which has an effect on blood sugar and insulin levels. One again, stress management looks different for every individual. Pick a few ways to manage stress that works FOR YOU.

6. Catch those Zzz’s! I’ve said it in many other posts, but sleep is so very important in our overall health and wellbeing. It’s the third pillar of health after diet & exercise. Sleep is when our brains detoxify, which can affect our neurotransmitters! If you recall, neurotransmitter changes (such as a dip in serotonin and dopamine levels) can be one of the root causes of PMS.

6. If holistic measures do not work for you, talking to a doctor about antidepressants, NSAIDs, or diuretics may help those with underlying issues and severe conditions.

Conclusion

If you’ve experienced PMS symptoms and do not want to live with these predictable symptoms anymore, try some of these remedies out. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions. I am happy to help, and keep in mind that I’ll be accepting nutrition clients come next Feb/March to help alleviate these issues through food!

Take care. Be safe, and stay healthy, friends! ā¤

Disclaimer: TheĀ medical/healthĀ information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. We do not provide any kind ofĀ medical/healthĀ advice. THE USE OR RELIANCE OF ANY INFORMATION CONTAINED ON THIS SITEĀ OR OUR MOBILE APPLICATIONĀ IS SOLELY AT YOUR OWN RISK.

References

  1. Higuera, V. (2027, June 05). Premenstrual Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments. Retrieved July 29, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/premenstrual-syndrome
  2. A DM, K S, A D, Sattar K. Epidemiology of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)-A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Study [published correction appears in J Clin Diagn Res. 2015 Jul;9(7):ZZ05].Ā J Clin Diagn Res. 2014;8(2):106-109. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2014/8024.4021
  3. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). (2020, February 07). Retrieved July 29, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/premenstrual-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20376780

Quinn’s Popcorn

Quinn’s Popcorn

It’s Friday, and that means movie night and popcorn! JP and I always like using Fridays to wind down from the week and feel refreshed for the weekend adventures ahead.

I have very fond memories of my grandma making stovetop popcorn in this old copper pot. She used raw kernels and olive oil to pop the kernels, and then added parmesean and sea salt. OMG, it was divine chomping on that watching Tales of the Crypt lol. Anyone my age remember that terrifying show? Anyways…

I can still taste the flavor of her popcorn. You know, the way you have taste memories of how your mom or grandma makes their recipe. It never turns out the same if anyone else makes it, even following the recipe to a T. I haven’t attempted making it her way, for this reason and because I just never thought to try it or buy popcorn kernels! Now I just might.

This is how I decided to try Quinns popcorn though. They’re a snack company that is dedicated to providing real foods that are non-GMO and are wrapped up in chemical-free packaging. Did you know that most traditional microwave poppcorn bags contain cancer-causing chemicals?! Ugh, yes.

I have written a review on their popcorn product, specifically their Aged Parmesan Rosemary. It is the only popcorn I will buy that is prepackaged because their bags do not contain carcinogens and their popcorn additives are not fake and processed crap!

On a scale of 1-10 with explanations, hereā€™s what I rated each category.

Texture:Ā 9/10

I mean, the mouthfeel is that of popcorn- light and slightly crunchy- the perfect consistency for a snack or light meal (insert: Olivia Pope vibes with red wine). I wish the popcorn itself was a little….what’s the word…sturdier…to pack more of a crunch. Does that make sense? Like I feel that movie theatre popcorn (while I don’t love the gallons of butter and fake additives) is durable with each popped kernel. For that reason, texture receives a 9/10.

 

Flavor: 8.5/10

Think popcorn. aged parmesan. rosemary. and salt- YUMMMM! Simple ingredients with nothing you can’t pronounce. I am obsessed with a hint of cheese and herbs in my meals, and salt always elevates those flavors. I usually add freshly grated Parmesan on top too, because the flavor is a bit stronger. I deducted a point from flavor for this reason, because while their cheese is non-GMO and from a cow that has not been treated with antibiotics nor hormones, it’s not as strong as fresh parm. Of course, I couldn’t expect it to be without being refrigerated. I also wish there was a touch more salt, so I knocked off another half point for that, but adding a dash of sea salt is an easy fix. šŸ˜‰ Overall, it’s tasty!

 

Nutrition Profile: 10/10

Calories: 510 kcal / bag (170 kcals / serving with 3 servings in each bag)

Fat: 6g/bagā€“ factoring in the sunflower oil it comes with, so to be expected

Carbs: 51g/bag ā€“ as expected

Protein: 12g/bag ā€“ better than expected for popcorn!

Fiber: 9g/bag ā€“ woohoo! Get that fiber! Goal is usually 25g;day for women, 38g/day for men

Added sugars: 0g ā€“ yusssss honey!

*Plus, vitamin A 2%, vitamin C and iron 4% of your daily valuešŸ™‚

Hereā€™s a screenshot of the ingredients:

Screen Shot 2020-07-24 at 4.44.41 PM

I am LOVING how short this ingredient list is! And please note that not all sunflower oils are made equal. While I typically prefer olive oil, high oleic sunflower oil contains more monounsaturated fats than polyunsaturated fats- more of the type of fat we want in our diet and that olive oil also consists of! I gave the nutrition profile a 10/10 because it’s macros and micros are pretty impressive compared to other popcorn brands.

Click here to check out all of where Quinn’s Snacks ingredients are sourced from. As you’ll see when exploring, they offer many flavors of popcorn and GF sorghum pretzels too! I can’t wait to try those…

 

Cost: 9.5/10

You can buy a 3-pack of this popcorn on Amazon for $13.17 rn, so it’s roughly $4/box with 2 bags in each. I’ve seen popcorn for cheaper, but I think paying an extra buck or two is worth the company being so transparent with where they source their quality ingredients from.

 

Overall Score: 9/10!

 

All in all, I would highly recommend checking out Quinn’s Snacks! They care about the packaging they use because they care about their consumers! They want to provide a safe, healthy and delicious snack that still represents classic foods we’re familiar with. I always purchase my Quinn’s popcorn at Target, but you can also find them on Amazon and use their store finder to find a retailer that carries them near you.

Happy snacking!

Estrogen Dominance: What Is It, and What Can I Do About It?

Estrogen dominance. It’s a term used to describe elevated estrogen levels within the body, for females or males. Estrogen dominance can also imply normal levels of estrogen in comparison to lower levels of progesterone at times throughout the menstrual cycle when progesterone is supposed to be the dominant sex hormone.

Signs and Symptoms of High Estrogen (for women):

  • irregular periods
  • bloating
  • weight gain
  • fatigue
  • difficulty sleeping
  • breast tenderness
  • mood swings
  • anxiety
  • hair loss
  • low libido
  • benign cystsĀ development in breasts
  • heightened PMS symptoms
  • headaches
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • cold hand or feet
  • memory issues Ā¹

Signs and Symptoms of High Estrogen (for men):

  • breast tenderness
  • breast enlargement
  • infertility
  • erectile dysfunctionĀ¹

These symptoms, especially a collection of them, are indicative of elevated estrogen. I always suggest contacting you primary care physician or OB to get a hormone analysis done to confirm this, but you can also tackle this issue with holistic approaches.

Holistic Approaches:

  1. Move more! Exercise aids in estrogen metabolism by releasing it from fat cells. Don’t worry. It’s not necessary to partake in vigorous exercise if that isn’t your style. Simply adding steps to your day (a common goal is 10,000 steps) works wonders in the long run.
  2. Try to avoid xenoestrogens, chemical compounds that mimic estrogen and cause endocrine disruption. Endocrines are glands that release these hormones, so if you have chemicals in your body that block or impair endocrine gland function, then your hormones will surely be out of wack. Xenoestrogens are found in plastic water bottles and food containers, beauty and cleaning products, and sunscreen (just to name a few). Do some research and buy brands with labels that say non-toxic and plant-based on them. Decreasing your toxic-load can do wonders!
  3. Chill out! Find things that help you relax and works for you. A sheet mask might sound idyllic to one person, while it sounds like a claustrophobic, goopy mess to another. Stress-management will help decrease cortisol production. In order for your body to make cortisol, progesterone is compromised in the process. If you engage in stress-reducing activities and some R&R, you will help save some of your progesterone.
  4. Catch enough Zzzz’s. Getting enough sleep will also lower your cortisol levels and keep your body regulated and in homeostasis. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep/night, with no one being an exception to how they operate or seem to succeed off less. Sleep is when our brains detoxify, our muscles recover, and our body rests and resets for the following day.

Foods For Estrogen Metabolism:

Here is a list of foods that can help metabolize estrogen and balance out your levels with progesterone. Estrogen is mainly metabolized in the liver and is then excreted through urine and feces.

  • Cruciferous vegetables (Wait a minute…I thought this was on the list for foods to eat for LOW ESTROGEN. Interestingly enough, cruciferous veggies can help those with low estrogen and those with high estrogen, as they act as both phytoestrogens and help estrogen metabolizers. Crazy paradox, right?). Here are some examples of cruciferous veggies.
    • broccoli
    • cauliflower
    • kale
    • arugula
    • watercress
    • cabbage
    • Brussel sprouts
  • Ā Mushrooms
  • Red grapes
  • Red wine!
  • Seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Green tea
  • PomegrantesĀ Ā²
  • Seaweed (nori) Ā³
  • Shellfish
  • Coffee ā“

Still confused whether you have low or high levels of estrogen? I get it, the signs and symptoms are very similar. Once again, it’s a great idea to get checked out before assuming; However, positive lifestyle changes such as getting more sleep, stress reduction and management, avoiding xenoestrogens, and exercising more can’t hurt. šŸ˜‰ and don’t forget my favorite part- the foods you can add to your diet! I want you to focus on what you can add to benefit your health and energy levels rather than restricting anything. Let me know if you have any general questions.

P.S. I started my internship today, so only 952 hours until I’m through! haha and that much closer to being able to counsel you on a personal and customized level. Woohoo!

Next Up…

“Women Produce Testosterone Too”

References

  1. Healthline. 2020.Ā Signs And Symptoms Of High Estrogen: Diagnosis, Treatment, And More. [online] Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/health/high-estrogen#causes&gt; [Accessed 20 July 2020].
  2. Healthline. 2020.Ā 7 Foods For Lowering Estrogen Levels In Men. [online] Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/health/low-testosterone/anti-estrogen-diet-men&gt; [Accessed 20 July 2020].
  3. Jane Teas, Thomas G. Hurley, James R. Hebert, Adrian A. Franke, Daniel W. Sepkovic, Mindy S. Kurzer, Dietary Seaweed Modifies Estrogen and Phytoestrogen Metabolism in Healthy Postmenopausal Women,Ā The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 139, Issue 5, May 2009, Pages 939ā€“944,Ā https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.108.100834
  4. Sisti JS, Hankinson SE, Caporaso NE, et al. Caffeine, coffee, and tea intake and urinary estrogens and estrogen metabolites in premenopausal women.Ā Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2015;24(8):1174-1183. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-15-0246

Perfect Bar: Lemon Poppy Seed

Perfect Bar: Lemon Poppy Seed

Hello, hello! Here are a few updates on my end…

  1. I officially start my dietetic internship TOMORROW! Eeeek!!! I had my orientation this past Monday and Tuesday, so I already accrued 40 hours between that and numerous projects we were assigned. Only 960 more hours to go, then I will sit for (and hopefully pass) the RD exam in Feb/March, and THEN I will be a Registered Dietitian!
  2. I have decided to incorporate product reviews in my rotation of posts because I absolutely adore some health food brands that I would love to support and promote. Plus, I won’t have the time to be developing new recipes to share all of the time (aside from the ones I’m cookin’ up for my cookbook!). Take ‘um or leave ‘um, but I hope some of you find these informative and useful.

Here it is- my first product review!

Perfect Bar Lemon Poppy Seed

I must disclose that I have been a Perfect Bar fan for YEARS now. I truly believe in their genuine approach to delivering whole foods in a convenient way. Plus, their bars are just dreamy, and if you remotely like nut butters of any sort, then you’re bound to love their nut butter-based bars that taste like solid peanut/almond/cashew butter gold!

So, you may see that I’m already biased, but hear me out…this new limited edition bar is fireeeeeeee. On a scale of 1-10 with explanations, here’s what I rate it each category.

Texture:Ā 9/10

The consistency is soft (but still holds form), smooth, and creamy- pretty much your ideal protein bar. However, I deducted 1 point because there is an ever so light coating of oil that keeps its consistency intact.

 

Flavor: 10/10

I am not a pushover when it comes to taste. In fact, I’m kind of picky and particular about what’s in my food and how the flavors play off one another. I have not given a perfect score to this perfect bar without much contemplation. The lemon zing is just enough- not overpowering and refreshing- and the poppy seeds balance it out just right! Now, the cashew butter (and peanut butter) used as the base are very complimentary to the lemon and poppy seeds because they aren’t too overwhelming with flavor either. It’s a party in your mouth and had me reminiscing over drinking lemonade as a kid in the summer.

 

Nutrition Profile: 7.5/10

Calories: 310 (great for a snack or light breakfast/dessert/additive to any of the above!)

Fat: 19g (24%) – fairly high, but still okay depending on your nutrition goals

Carbs: 25g (9%) – as expected

Protein: 12g – decent

Fiber: 2 g – meh

Added sugars: 10g – a little higher than I would like, but hey, what doesn’t kill ya šŸ˜‰

*1 bar also provides 140mg calcium and 380 mg potassium šŸ™‚

Here’s a screenshot of the ingredients:

Screen Shot 2020-07-19 at 6.09.45 PM

I am amenable to all of these ingredients, but I’m not crazy about the addition of sunflower oil and sesame oil, but hey aren’t deal breakers. šŸ˜‰ I gave the nutrition profile a 7.5, with 1 point off for high fat content and added sugars, plus a half point for the oils.

 

Cost: 10/10

I paid $32.00 for a variety pack of 12 bars- half lemon poppy seed, half cherry pie. That equates to $2.67/bar. That’s pretty good, considering the ingredients that are in each bar. Plus, I received 15% off my first purchase with Perfect Bar and the shipping was FREE! By the way, Perfect Bars are usually $1.99 at Trader Joes.

 

Overall Score: 9/10!

 

At the end of the day, I would recommend Perfect Bars to anyone looking for a filling, delicious, flavor-packed snack or quick on-the-go brekky. Their Lemon Poppy Seed addition was the ideal summer drop to lighten the mood and days ahead. Plus, they’re nutritious. Check um out at perfectsnacks.com . You can also find them at Traders, Whole Foods, Starbucks, and many other convenient and grocery stores! Enjoy!

Signs of Low Estrogen and What You Can Do About It!

Low estrogen levels can display in a number of ways. Not only can irritating symptoms such as fatigue and headaches present themselves, but serious health repercussions can result from long-term estrogen deficits.

As mentioned in my previous post, estrogen is a major female sex hormone that is mainly produced and secreted by the ovaries. Estrogen naturally increases during puberty and maintains levels during your reproductive years. As perimenopause approaches, levels begin to decline, but some women experience low estrogen symptoms well before this.

Signs and symptoms of low estrogen:

  • irregular periods
  • pain during sex
  • hot flashes
  • depression
  • headaches
  • recurring UTIs
  • incontinence
  • weight gain
  • fatigue
  • mood swingsĀ Ā¹

Please note that just because you identify with some of these symptoms, that doesn’t automatically mean you have low estrogen. This is not WebMD and you are not a doctor! If you suspect you may have low estrogen, schedule an appointment with your doctor for a blood draw and hormone analysis.

Some causes of low estrogen during your reproductive years include:

  • ovarian cysts
  • thyroid disorders
  • being underweight (if you don’t have enough body fat, your reproductive system cannot function properly)
  • excessive, intense exercise
  • chemotherapy
  • other endocrine disordersĀ 

*genetics can also be a risk factorĀ Ā¹

What can I do?

This is where I can come in to help! If you verify with your doctor that you have low estrogen levels, hormone therapy and estrogen doses are available. However, if you could raise your estrogen levels naturally, I recommend doing so with the following:

  • Consult with a dietitian to gain a healthy amount of weight to support your reproductive organs and system. (I will be offering this service as early as next March!).
  • Ease up on the exercise. To reset and regulate the body, I know many women who had to completely take a break from exercise. If you absolutely need to move for the sake of your mental health, I suggest going on walks or hikes with friends. šŸ™‚ Light yoga can also be beneficial for the mind and body.
  • Reduce stress and cortisol levels by any means necessary,
  • Consume more phytoestrogens (plants that mimic the chemical structure of estrogen in the body by binding to estrogen-receptors).

Phytoestrogens

Here is a list of phytoestrogens that may help raise low estrogen levels and provide other protective, health benefits as well (against breast cancer, CVD, diabetes, obesity and more).

  • Seeds! Flaxseed meal, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds
  • Fruits, such as strawberries, apricots, and oranges
  • Vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and kale
  • Lentils and legumes
  • Chickpeas
  • Olives and olive oilĀ Ā²

Foods High in Magnesium & Zinc

Foods high in magnesium and zinc have been proven to be supportive of reproductive health.

  • Avocados
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Shellfish
  • Wheatgerm
  • Oatmeal
  • Kidney beans
  • Dark, leafy greens
  • Bananas
  • YogurtĀ Ā²

Low estrogen levels can exist and plague women in their reproductive years for a number of reasons. Please seek medical advice and analysis if you suspect you have low estrogen before consulting with a dietitian and using your diet to balance hormones.

 

Resources

1. Medicalnewstoday.com. 2020.Ā Low Estrogen: Causes, Effects, And Treatment Options. [online] Available at: <https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321064&gt; [Accessed 12 July 2020].

2. Mdvip.com. 2020.Ā Foods That Boost Estrogen & Testosterone – Living Well – MDVIP. [online] Available at: <https://www.mdvip.com/about-mdvip/blog/foods-to-boost-estrogen-testosterone-levels#:~:text=Eating%20foods%20that%20can%20help,help%20women%20raise%20estrogen%20levels.&gt; [Accessed 12 July 2020].