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How food influences us and recipes to fuel your body for optimal health.

For the last five years, I have been on a medical journey toward healing. At first, I was unsure of the cause of my debilitating symptoms, so I immersed myself fully in the nutrition world in an attempt to try and heal my body from the inside out.

With undiagnosed illness comes a trial-and-error period. I dove into health and wellness — in a nutritional aspect — to fine tune what worked for my body. I tried vegetarianism, veganism, a pescatarian diet, cutting out sugar, dairy, and any other foods that didn’t make me feel 100%. I challenge you to do the same. Spend time listening to your body and its emotional connection with food to understand what makes you feel your best. 

“We are what we eat,” is a common phrase we have all heard throughout our lifetime, but we may often fail to grasp the truth behind it. We function based on what we put inside our body, and food often influences us in ways that we may not even realize. For starters, the food you eat affects your body physically by providing an increase or decrease in the amount of energy available. Studies have shown a connection between an increase in sugar consumption with reduced brain performance, specifically in parts of the brain that deal with memory. Furthermore, increased sugar consumption can lead to chronic and detrimental diseases like cancer, kidney disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. 

The primary function of the body’s system is to carry out specific functions for everyday living. Think of the body like a car. In order to run, a car needs fuel, oil, starter fluid, and so on. When the “Check Engine” light illuminates, you immediately start to ask questions like: “Am I fueling my car with the proper fuel?” “Does it have oil?” “Is there starter fluid?” In the same way, understanding what our bodies need in order to run will give us more insight into how food can influence the human body.

Without proper nutrition people cannot reach their healthiest potential. Feeling tired, sick, or anxious are all considered “check engine” lights for our bodies. Are you drinking enough water? Have you eaten enough fats? Are you eliminating foods and toxins properly? The right food can be excellent preventative maintenance for our bodies.

What you feed your body matters for a number of different reasons, including high and low energy levels, growth and development of muscles, bones, and teeth, immune system strength, repairing injuries, brain function, and proper development of organs. All of these factors are dependent upon the nutrition we are supplying for our bodies. 

“Take a step out of your comfort zone to dive into what makes you feel whole in all facets of life.”

Physical ailments and inflammatory diseases, like Lyme disease and rheumatoid arthritis, can often be cured with proper nutrition. Immune-boosting foods include citrus fruits, packed with vitamin C to fight infections; bell peppers, a rich source of beta carotene to help keep your eyes and skin health; garlic, to lower blood pressure and fight infection; and turmeric, a key ingredient in treating inflammation. Variety is key to proper nutrition. There is a direct link between nutrients and emotional well-being. So, the healthier you eat, the happier you feel.

As you begin your health journey, I would encourage you to experiment in the kitchen, and surround yourself with loving, warm family and friends. Take a step out of your comfort zone to dive into what makes you feel whole in all facets of life. I’m sure you may be perplexed over whether to believe the claims you read about health and wellness. You’ve probably thought about whether you’re supposed to drink that glass of orange juice because the Vitamin C can help fight infection or push it aside due to the sugar content which might feed the virus. (Hint: Drink the orange juice.)

The role nutrition plays in our lives relies solely on how we utilize it. What we put in our bodies can either feed disease or prevent it. Often times, food can be associated with a negative connotation instead of seeing it as something that can fuel our bodies. Food acts as medicine to maintain health and prevent disease. If we are giving our bodies fat-dense and sugar-filled foods, we put ourselves at risk for malnourishment and lower our guard for disease to strike. What we choose to eat determines the quality of nutrients we allow our bodies to receive. We learn to honor ourselves and support our growth by choosing food, relationships, experiences, thoughts, and behavior that nourish and heal our bodies. 

“Spend time listening to your body and its emotional connection with food to understand what makes you feel your best.”

I encourage you to do your research, connect with yourself, and seek guidance from health coaches and nutrition experts. Pay attention to what feels good and allow your body the freedom to make small lifestyle choices that lead to a path of sustainable wellness. Hone in on fueling the body with clean, whole foods that promote optimal fulfillment and learn to use nutrition as a source of health restoration.

As you begin this journey toward healing, allow a change in perspective to follow. Learn how to eat and live in a harmonious way that aligns you with the natural ecology of your body. Your overall health and wellbeing will prosper. Take the dive, your body will thank you. 

Autumn Grain Bowl

30 minutes | Serves 4

1 cup Brussels sprouts, stems removed and cut in half

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 chipotle pepper

1 tsp adobo sauce from can of chipotles

1 small sweet potato, peeled and sliced in rounds

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tbsp grass-fed butter

½ cup chickpeas

1 tbsp avocado or olive oil

½ tsp paprika

¼ tsp garlic powder

1 cup cooked quinoa

1 cup cooked pearled couscous

1 cup kale, chopped

2 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 roasted red pepper, sliced

2 tbsp feta cheese

Chipotle Crema

3 tbsp Greek yogurt

1/3 cup coconut milk

1 tbsp adobo sauce from can of chipotles

Juice of ½ lime

Zest of ½ lime

¼ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Toss the Brussels sprouts with maple syrup, chipotle, and adobo. Spread on the sheet. Toss the sweet potatoes with coconut oil, butter, salt, and pepper. Spread on the sheet. Toss the chickpeas with the olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Spread on the sheet. Roast everything for 20 to 25 minutes.

To make the grain bowls, combine couscous and quinoa in the bottom of the bowl. Massage the kale with the sesame oil and let it sit for five minutes, then toss with the grains. Add the Brussels sprouts, sweet potato rounds, and roasted red pepper. Top with chickpeas and feta. Drizzle with chipotle crema to finish.

Warm Kale Salad

30 minutes | Serves 4

Dressing:

1 egg

1 cup avocado oil

2 cloves garlic, diced

Zest of ½ lime

Juice of 2 limes (about 2 tbsp)

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

½ cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

Salad:

Kale, chopped

Small butternut squash

Heirloom tomatoes

Mandarin orange slices

Pecorino Romano cheese, grated

Dried cranberries or pomegranate seeds

Chopped walnuts

Emulsify dressing and store in a glass jar. 

Chicken Tikka Masala

 

30 minutes | Serves 4

2 lbs. chicken breast, cubed or sub-cooked lentils for a vegetarian option

1 tbsp garam masala

1 tsp turmeric powder 

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp paprika

12 oz can full fat coconut milk

1 tsp red curry paste

1 tube of tomato paste, or 16-oz can

Small yellow onion, diced

3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped

1 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot flour

3/4 cup chicken broth

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Salt and pepper

Cilantro, for garnish

Vegetable Lentil Soup

45 minutes – 1 hour | Serves 4 – 6

2 tbsp oil, such as avocado or olive

2 cloves garlic, minced 

2 cups chopped collard greens.

½ white onion, diced

4 large carrots, thinly sliced

4 stalks celery, thinly sliced

1/4 tsp sea salt

¼ tsp black pepper 

3 cups red baby potatoes, roughly chopped into bite-size pieces

6 cups vegetable broth (can sub chicken or bone broth)

2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary or thyme 

1 cup uncooked lentils, thoroughly rinsed and drained

Fresh parsley, for garnish

 

 

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