Food as Medicine

Most of us know that food work as fuel for our bodies, what most people don’t know is that nutritious and healthy food may also prevent diseases and enhance body functions.

“Nutrients are the nourishing substances in food that are essential for the growth, development and maintenance of body functions. Essential meaning that if a nutrient is not present, aspects of function and therefore human health decline.

When nutrient intake does not regularly meet the nutrient needs dictated by the cell activity, the metabolic processes slow down or even stop.”

– Perspectives in Nutrition, Wardlow and Insel

We need to focus on foods we should include rather than foods to exclude. Instead of viewing food as the enemy, we should look to food as a way to create health and reduce disease by helping the body maintain function.food-as-medicine

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Eating on a College Campus

We have all heard about freshman-15 and I’ve had a lot of friends going down that road where they just give up and give in for all the junk food that is offered on a college campus. I am going to college next year and I am preparing myself so that I can keep living a healthy lifestyle on campus. I have made a suggestion below on what kind of things a college student can eat that is healthy, accessible on campus and within a budget.

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You can find all the recipes on these two sites: greatist.com & spoonuniversity.com. There are a lot of different and interesting recipes out there. It was very easy to find some good and easy recipes on Pinterest, so for all of you who are interested, go on and look at Pinterest and I promise you’ll find a ton.

TeenVogue also posted “10 Easy Ways to Eat Healthy in College (It’s Possible, We Promise!)” which explains 10 easy ways to choose the right food on campus. The 10 ways are to stock up on healthy staples, always take the fruit, eat high-quality junk food, think of dining hall as a classroom, listen to your body, experiment with what you’re eating, order in, find your food confidence & food-spiration, and establish a routine. To sum them up, you should listen to your body, make the right choices and plan ahead. To read every statement in more detail, visit the site here.

 

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Smoothie Bowls

It’s very easy to make a yummy smoothie bowl. Start off with a bowl, pour in a smoothie of your choice and top it off with something you enjoy. My favorite flavors for smoothies are mango, berry, and a minty spinach one. I like to top my smoothie bowls off with some nuts, shredded coconut and berries. You can also add some more chia seeds, flax seeds or something else to get some more fiber.

Other than Smoothie Bowls, Acai Bowls are also pretty popular right now. An acai bowl is pretty much the same as a smoothie bowl but it contains the fruit acai which comes all the way from Brazil. Here in the U.S., acai berries come not as a whole fruit, but as frozen puree. And it can only be found in the freezer section of local health food stores, Whole Foods, or purchased online through Amazon or one the website of one of the biggest producer, Sambazon. Here you can find some recipes: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/15/acai-bowls-recipe_n_5147465.html and here you can find all the amazing health benefits: http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/benefits-of-acai/

I made a smoothie bowl the other day with a recipe I got from a Swedish blogger, which you can find here. It’s made out of 1 banana, 2-3 frozen strawberries, fresh mango and some almond milk to get a smooth texture. Mix it all together in a blender and indulge in this healthiness. I made mine as an afternoon snack before I went to the gym, I also made an avocado sandwich in crisp bread. This will keep you full for a while and satisfy your sweet tooth. IMG_8320IMG_8322

Sweat, Smile and Repeat

I talked about how important it is to exercise in one of the earlier posts but I just wanted to share some good examples on what kind of workouts you could do. You can do all of these workouts at home and it the longest one takes about 40 min. It’s healthy to do high intensity cardio training 2-3 times a week. Here are some good examples on how cardio training benefits you and your health:benefits-of-cardio.jpg

 

If you don’t have any weights at home, use an empty milk carton filled with water or a large bottle of laundry detergent. If you don’t have a stability ball, use a chair with a pillow on for comfort or maybe a footstool

 

On the days you don’t feel like working out, lay down on the living room floor and do some cosy & comfy yoga. Yoga has many health benefits such as; helps your flexibility, builds muscle strength, prevents cartilage and joint breakdown, increases your blood flow, boosts immunity, drops your blood pressure, lowers blood sugar, just to name a few. The good thing about yoga is that you can do it anywhere, anytime. Here are two videos of different yoga routines I enjoy. One of them is said to reduce stress and anxiety, the other one is for beginners, and very easy to follow along with.

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Banana Pancakes

I have to share one of my favorite recipes with you guys. It’s a favorite because it’s really easy to make, only requires 2 ingredients and tastes delicious! I got this recipe from a book called Bodylicious by Sofi Fahrman and Julia Fors. They are both Swedish bloggers who write about how they balance their life and career to achieve a healthy lifestyle.

These are banana pancakes that you can make for breakfast, brunch, as a snack or dessert.

For about 6 small pancakes you will need:

  • 1 Banana
  • 1 Egg

Squash the banana using a fork, then crack in the egg and whisk all together. Heat up a pan and pour some healthy oil (olive or coconut) in there. Then you pour the mixture in the pan and wait until golden to flip over to the other side- basics, right? The pancakes won’t be as fluffy and thick as regular American pancakes but almost.

The good part about these is that you can add almost whatever you want to them and they will still taste delicious. I usually add some salt, vanilla extract and flaxseeds. Then I serve it with fresh berries and peanut butter. Voilá, you have yourself some amazingly healthy pancakes.

Clean Key Lime Cheesecake Bites

I’m kind of obsessed when it comes to desserts. I love a good dessert to round off a good dinner or a lunch, especially when I’m out eating at a restaurant. The only problem is that I know I can’t eat those dessert too often, because they are usually a big sugar trap that won’t do any good for my health. I believe that we all deserve something sweet and unhealthy once in a while, but it’s important to find the balance that suits you, not eating too unhealthy and not being too strict with your healthy eating either.

I found this great recipe for Key Lime Cheesecake Bites here that tastes delicious! They’re made out of clean ingredients, making it vegan and gluten free. It wasn’t too hard to make and you can keep them in your freezer for a go-to dessert when you have dinner guests or take a bite whenever you feel those unwanted cravings.

This makes about 18 small bites:

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Pitted Dates
  • 1 Cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 1 Cup Raw Cashews
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Filling Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups Cashew Butter OR 3 Cups of Pre-Soaked Dates
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp Coconut Sap (Optional if you like it sweet)
  • 3 Packets of Truvia (or Stevia Brand of Choice)
  • Zest of 1/2 Lime
  • Juice of 1/2 Lime
  • Extra Lime Zest for Topping

Put all the filling ingredients in a small food processor bowl and blend until smooth and set aside. Put all the crust ingredients in a large food processor and blend until dough like consistency with visible chunks of nut. Grease an 8×8 baking pan or glass dish with a healthy oil (I used coconut oil). Top with cheesecake filling using a spoon or spatula to make sure the filling is evenly distributed over the crust. Thinly sprinkle your extra lime zest over the top and cover it up with plastic wrap, then put in freezer overnight. When you are ready to serve remove from the freezer, cut into squares and serve immediately.

I served mine with some greek yogurt and fresh berries and got some excellent response from my dinner guests. They are pretty heavy in taste so don’t make the squares to big, the smaller and cuter the better.

Post-Workout Snacks

Other than eating healthy, we have to do some form of exercise on an every day basis to achieve optimal health. It could be anything from walking to doing high intensity intervals or playing your favorite sport. The main thing is that we are up and moving every day. To maintain a healthy weight for an average teenager, we should be doing some kind of exercise for about 45-60 min/day and do HIIT workouts 2-3 times a week. HIIT stands for high intensity interval training, for example, running intervals on the treadmill, taking a spinning class or swimming. For someone that needs/wants to lose weight, the most important thing is to burn more calories than you eat, but remember that this doesn’t mean that you should eat less!

After a workout, it’s important to refuel your body with the right kind of food. To get a quick muscle recovery we should eat carbohydrates and protein after every workout. Here are some samples of what that could look like:

  • Apple slices with peanut/almond butter
  • Greek yogurt with sliced banana and a drizzle of honey
  • Egg scramble with an avocado on the side
  • Omelette with spinach and turkey
  • High-protein smoothies (here you have a few recipes)

Here’s a very simple recipe for a strawberry smoothie:

  • 1 Banana
  • 6-8 frozen Strawberries
  • 4-5 oz of Almond milk/skim milk
  • 2 tbsp Flaxseed
  • Granola and fresh strawberries for garnish

Mix everything in a blender and pour into a tall glass. Garnish with some homemade granola (find recipe here) and fresh strawberries.

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The basics for making a good smoothie is to add fruit and some kind of liquid, learn the essentials here. To get the perfect post- workout smoothie, add a banana, egg or yogurt for protein, and seeds or nuts for carbohydrates. In this recipe we get our protein from the banana and the milk, vitamins from the banana and the strawberries, and then some good carbs and fiber from the flaxseeds.

 

A Simple Salad

Sometimes, a simple salad is the way to go when you feel uninspired, or maybe lack the time of preparation. Some people find a simple salad to be quite boring, but I’m here to change your mind!

For those of you who don’t know all the different sorts of salads and why some are healthier than others can find a good description of them here. I like to go with spinach and arugula for my salads but there are plenty more to choose from. You want to choose a salad that have clear and colorful leaves, the stronger the color is often means that they contain more nutrients.

Here is a simple but delicious recipe for one of my favorite salads:

Serves about 3-4 people, and takes 25-30 min.

  • 1/2 bag of Baby lettuce
  • 1/2 bag of Arugula
  • 1  Bell pepper (red or yellow)
  • 1/4 Onion
  • 1/2 Cantaloupe
  • 1 Mango
  • 1 package of Mozzarella Bocconcini
  • 1/2 Pomegranate
  • 10 leaves of Basil
  • 1 packet Prosciutto.

Heat your oven to 400°F. Place the slices of prosciutto on a baking paper on top of a baking plate and slide into the oven. They will be ready in about 7-10 min, watch them carefully, you want them to become crispy but not burnt. While the prosciutto is in the oven, prepare the rest of the salad. Chop everything into the shape you prefer, then tare the mozzarella into pieces (it preserves more flavor this way) and place them on top of everything. Finish it off with a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds and basil, then place the crispy prosciutto on top.

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Sur La Table- Cooking Class

A week ago I took a cooking class at Sur La Table in Old Orchard, Evanston. The class I took was called Eating Well: Healthy & Flavorful, and I learned a lot!

First off, this was quite an experience. It was so nice to meet new people, eat good food and learn something new! The Chef was very helpful, answering questions and instructive in what we were cooking. I left the class with some new cutting skills, a new recipe to try out and especially, I left with a full and satisfied stomach.

I wanted to share one of my favorite things we made. This was our appetizer but it would definitely suit for lunch as well. We made a Farro Salad with Roasted Chicken and Beet Green Pesto. Farro is an ancient variety of whole wheat. It is considered a healthy whole grain and is excellent in salads, soups and substituted for rice or pasta in many main dishes.

This recipe makes for 4-6 servings and takes about an hour. It is a perfect dish to prepare the day before or keep as leftovers because you want everything to be cold and the pesto will get tastier with time. 

Salad:

  • 1 Cup Italian farro, pearled or semi-pearled
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • 2 Tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil
  • 1 Pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and butterflied
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Pint grape tomatoes, rinsed and halved
  • 3 Cups baby spinach, arugula or hearty green, stemmed
  • 1/2 Cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Beet Green Pesto:

  • 1/4 Cup walnuts
  • 1 1/2 Cups chopped beet greens (from 1 bunch beets)
  • 1 Small garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/3 Cup basil leaves
  • Zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, as needed
  • 1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 Cup grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place a medium saucepan filled halfway with water over high heat and bring to boil. Generously season water with salt. Add farro, lower the temp. to medium and simmer until tender, 20-30 min. Drain the farro, ensuring all excess water is removed. Transfer to a large bowl, and set aside to cool.

In a food processor, add walnuts, beet greens, garlic, basil, lemon zest and juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; pulse until finely chopped. Pour in oil while pulsing to combine. Add parmesan and continue to pulse until well combined. Set aside.

Arrange chicken on a rimmed baking sheet, brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until lightly browned and cooked through, 12-15 min. Let cool to room temp. Transfer to a cutting board and slice into bitesize pieces, or pull apart with a fork or another preferred utensil to create strings of chicken.

Add roasted chicken to the cooled farro. Add pesto and mix thoroughly. Fold in tomatoes and greens. Taste and adjust with seasoning, top it off with grated parmesan, and serve!

Here’s a link to Sur La Table’s website. After participating in any of their cooking classes, everyone gets 10% off on all of their Sur La Table purchases.