Thursday, October 15, 2015

Stuffed Peppers (paleo, slowcooker option)

There's something magical about a change of season. Usually, the arrival of fall means the beginning of my whining about winter. However, this year, after having had such an amazing summer and a late arrival to fall, I couldn't help but get lost in the beauty of fall. With the colder weather, my body starts to crave more hot foods.

Since I've been playing dodgeball about three times a week and been doing weight training workouts on the side, my body's been begging me for more protein. A smoothie with 18 grams of protein just won't do anymore. I decided to make stuffed peppers for breakfast instead. People generally tend to give me a look of "umm, okay, really?" when I eat dinner foods for breakfast, but dinner for breakfast is my absolute favourite.

I took 15 minutes last night to prepare the filling and stuff the peppers so that it would all be ready to go today. The beauty of this recipe is that it's so quick, and then it can be made in the oven or in the slowcooker while you're at work or running errands.

Stuffed peppers (paleo, slowcooker option)

4 medium or large bell peppers of different colours
Approx. 1 lb ground meat of choice (I used chicken)
1 small cooking onion, finely chopped
1 small zucchini, quartered and chopped
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp black pepper
Salt to preference

Preheat oven to 400F (unless using slowcooker).

Mix together all the raw ingredients except for the bell peppers, then set aside. Cut off the tops of the bell peppers and remove the seeds. Pack the filling inside the peppers.

Cook in the oven for about an hour or in the slowcooker on low for 8 hours.

Can be prepared in advance and cooked the next day as long as expiry dates of all ingredients are being respected.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Is Gluten Really Bad For You?

“So, is gluten really that bad for you?” This is probably the single question I am asked most often when people find out I am a nutritionist. So, what IS the answer? It's actually not that simple. There are a few factors that need to be taken into account.

Many people I've talked to have commented that they don't believe in non-Celiac gluten intolerance for a number of reasons. Articles and videos have popped up allover the place from varying sources talking about its non-existence. Others are skeptical because it has become such a wide-spread food sensitivity. Others think that “gluten intolerance” is a fancy term for a weight-loss diet.

This topic requires a brief overview of food sensitivities in general. It is possible to develop a food intolerance or allergy to any food. A food allergy, which is caused by a type of antibody characterized as IgE, manifests itself within two hours of being exposed to the allergen. A food intolerance, which can be caused by the antibodies IgG or IgA, tends to display symptoms 6-48 hours after exposure to the allergen. Symptoms can vary from gastrointestinal issues, headaches, skin problems, depression, and many, many others. Because of its wide variety of symptoms and its slow reaction time, an intolerance can be extremely difficult to pinpoint without testing. Celiac Disease is another kind of reaction, and will not be addressed in this article.

Intestines are naturally porous. That's how nutrients find their way from the digestive system to the bloodstream. In a healthy digestive system, these pores are small and only allow fully digested particles through. However, inflammation (from toxins in preservatives, stress, etc.) can lead to an increase in the size of the pores. This is what is commonly known as leaky gut syndrome.

Many food sensitivities develop from frequent exposure to the same ingredients. Our bodies produce enzymes to digest different foods. Eating the same foods over and over depletes the enzyme availability. When the enzyme supply is low, food is not broken down as easily.

Undigested food particles, combined with leaky gut syndrome, can lead to large food particles finding their way to the bloodstream. Our antibodies see these large food particles as intruders and begin attacking them. Every time these large particles enter the bloodstream, they are recognized as intruders, and our bodies launch an attack against these so-called intruders, causing all kinds of symptoms.

Gluten is a protein found in different grains, including wheat. Since wheat is one of the most consumed ingredients in the Standard American Diet (SAD), gluten intolerance is becoming more and more prevalent. Gluten finds its way not only to breads, cereals, crackers, and pasta, but also to many packaged soups, gravies, sauces, flavourings, and pretty well any other packaged item you can think of.

Many people have heard that a gluten free diet is healthier than the SAD. Some of these people are choosing to follow a gluten free diet for that reason, buying packaged gluten free foods that are loaded with corn, sugar, and all kinds of chemical preservatives. So, if you ask me if a gluten free diet is healthier, if this is the diet you had in mind, my answer will be a definite “no”. You may avoid developing a gluten intolerance that way, but you just may develop an intolerance to corn instead. Or rice. Or potatoes. You get the gist.

So, is gluten really bad for you? Ultimately, it's up to you to decide what's right for your body and your health. Gluten or no gluten, I like to encourage people to follow a whole foods diet that includes a lot of variety. This sort of diet naturally cuts down on gluten consumption.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Mexican Spiced Chicken (paleo)

Lately, I feel like I keep eating the same meals over and over, but finding time to constantly come up with something new and palatable feels draining at times. I don't want to buy condiments or spices for something I'll be making one time because then I have to store the remainders, and I so badly want to downsize my kitchen. Every time I move, I have more boxes for all my kitchen stuff then for the rest of my apartment combined.

This mexican spiced chicken worked out well because I got to come up with something new to make using things I already had at home. It has the added bonus of not containing sugar or vinegar. While I haven't been following the candida diet, any meal I can make that respects its guidelines makes me feel better about the fact that I've been majorly slacking off with my health.

Mexican Spiced Chicken (paleo)

4 chicken legs with backs, skin on, bone in
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
To taste: salt, pepper, cayenne pepper
OR use a Mexican spice blend

Preheat oven to 375F.

Rinse the raw chicken and dry with paper towels. Mix the spices together in a small bowl and spread evenly between the four pieces of chicken.

Cook the chicken for about half an hour or until fully cooked. If you like your chicken extra crispy, broil until the top is brown, but watch it closely.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Curry Kale Chips (vegan, paleo)

I should just change my name to "That Curry Girl". Honestly, I've thought of curry-ing pretty much everything I eat. I mean, things that you would never think of flavouring with curry spices. You know, like kale chips. Oh, except I didn't THINK of curry-ing kale chips, I curried kale chips.

I woke up in the morning and considered going to yoga, but since I did two back to back yoga classes the night before, I opted for a calm day, free of the stress of the one hour commute to the yoga studio. So, I stayed home and made kale chips.

Curry Kale Chips (vegan, paleo)

1 small bunch kale
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cardamom
Optional: cayenne pepper to taste
Salt to taste
(You can just use curry powder instead if you prefer)

Preheat over to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Wash and dry the kale. Remove ribs, tear into bite-sized pieces, and place on the baking sheet. Add the oil and the spices and toss to coat evenly.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, taking it out halfway through to toss around.