Monday, February 23, 2015

Chocolate Banana Bread *GF*

This month has brought through some good changes!! I started walking more with an accountability partner. I'm working out for a half hour 5 days a week and going to yoga once a week (usually). Next month, I hope to increase my working out to one hour a day five times a week. 

Isn't that what the wellness journey is all about? Incorporating some good-for-you changes and seeing how they work with your body and within the harmony of your family!? Such as my posts have suggested thus far in 2015, New Year Solutions and Diets Fail!, movement is a key component of your wellness journey but my heart and attention usually falls in the realm of nutrition. Find what you're good at and then slowly add in other elements. 

This brings me to my post: Recently I borrowed a bread machine. 

I've tried numerous breads in the oven and FAIL! In this bread maker, I'm baking gluten breads to start. You see, my family isn't gluten free but like gardening, I feel I've got to start somewhere. I'll draw back to the garden statement in a moment. So far I've made three loaves with gluten and they're getting better with each loaf! Now, I must caveat and mention that I've baked sweet (mini) breads in the oven - zucchini (will publish on 3/2), chocolate, carrot, banana, etc., all without fail. The sandwich bread has been the tricky one in the oven. 

One afternoon while my gluten bread was baking in the machine, I saw my brown bananas sitting on the counter. About every other month or so I make my banana bread recipe and the last time I forgot about trying my hand at the gluten free mix. This time around, I made my favorite of all time banana bread with the gluten free mix flour (I had purchased it in the gourmet aisle at the local department store, Marshall's). So I cheated and used the mix but I did call them and ask the source of the xanthan gum - it is nonGMO! I wasn't sure if I was supposed to use baking soda like in my original recipe (link above) so I threw it in anyway. Sometimes when it doubt, leave it out, but I went with my gut on this one, and left it in. 

Even though my family isn't gluten free, I'm sharing this recipe for two reasons: 
1) I'm open to learning, growing (trying), and sharing; 
2) We all start somewhere.

So if you're strictly gluten-free, this recipe may not be well suited because I didn't evaluate every ingredient for gluten. In my research, using baking soda made in a dedicated 100% gluten free facility may be best. However, if you're wanting to try something new or want some shortcuts if not strictly gluten-free, this recipe may work. 


iCA | Chocolate Banana Bread *GF* using a nonGMO mix


Many of the gluten free flour mixes are usually chock full of GMOs - corn and other derivatives that are not clearly labeled. So when in doubt, you can leave it out, or you can call the company direct and inquire like I did with the brand I used, Sugar and Spice Market. They said that their packages in the future will say made with all non-GMO ingredients. So keep your look out for the updated labels. 

Before I share my recipe, let me address that garden comment above. I am volunteering my time at least once a week with our community garden. You can learn about that here and here. I've been a volunteer since May 2014 and I've learned a lot! My mom has a green thumb. I killed house plants. I couldn't even grow lavender. But that was then and this is now. (Remember: Be open to learning, growing, and sharing.)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Diets Fail! Or, do they?! Tools for Measuring Success

Them: What kind of diet are you on?
Me: Real Food.

More on how I define Real Food (see 3b).

I understand the need to identify what protocol works best for your situation. Those that are in-tune with their body will be better at determining which diet may be necessary. For some, it's for weight loss, but for many, it's to feel good. There's something about adding life to our years. My hope is that through my resources - my blog, presentations, and classes, you will be encouraged to advocate for your wellness, read your labels, partner with your practitioner, and always do your own research.




Why do diets fail?

Simply put, many are unable to stick to it. Why is that? Maybe, the particular diet chosen didn't align with the individual's needs - for today (short term) and tomorrow (in the long run).  Let's explore some reasons why diets many times do not work:

1) Don't Feel Good
2) Hunger
3) Cravings
4) Social Pressure
5) Lack Results
6) Too Rigid
7) Budget or Lifestyle
8) Bored

Some choose a protocol (aka diet) that is temporary. It is what helps them identify the triggers that is causing their sickness and discomfort. Many times, they stay the course longer than they had originally planned. Other times, they may incorporate one new food item during a period of time like an Elimination Diet (How tos by: Mind Body Green and Precision Nutrition) to determine which foods align or damage. This is part of the wellness journey.


Lifestyle vs. Diet

Choose a lifestyle regardless if this includes a diet or protocol of your choosing. I like to call it a health regimen. It places the priority on health which to me means long term. I guess it's all a matter of opinion but use words that empower your journey and be confident in your research and choices. Always be open to changes because they 'gon come! 

Dieting is often referred to as weight cycling (yoyo dieting) in which you are choosing different programs to achieve certain results (primarily weight loss) over long-term wellness changes.


What does weight cycling comprise of?

1. You start to lose weight.
2. You quit your diet because you've a) met your goal or b) can't keep it up.
3. You return to your old eating habits.
4. You gain the weight previously lost right back.
5. Frustrated with your weight, you go on a diet.


Weight Cycling May Cause:

- Decrease in muscle mass if not exercising. 
(More muscle = more calories burned; less muscle = less calories burned)
- Mental distress (fear of failure (again))
- Life dissatisfaction
- Self doubt
- Anxiety


Healthy and Sustainable Weight Loss

Losing 1-2 pounds a week is sustainable. Sure, it doesn't sound like a lot and if you're on the heavier side, you're already calculating how long that's going to take. But, give yourself some grace. It may take time, but during this process, you'll be fine tuning new habits and you'll look back one day and see how far you've really come!

Take baby steps. You already know how much I tout this as a general rule in your wellness journey. I'm a baby stepper. It works! Sure, you can go cold turkey and go all in so if your personality supports this action then give it a try and it's okay if you have to pull back a bit and go slower during different seasons in the journey.

Support system. This is an essential part of the protocol for most. We just do better when we have a buddy or a team of supporters. Look for your tribe. Can't find one? Create one. 

I'm also learning more about support systems in place with insurance providers like this integrative health care policy holder of New York and New Jersey, Hi Oscar, and gyms who tout YOLO (you only live once) like in the city of Lancaster, CA where they're offering cash rewards for meeting daily personal activity goals. 

I am sure there are more programs! If you know of any in your area, comment with your city, state, and / or zip code and the program in place.

Include behavioral changes in your journey. This is having the right attitude for your situation.  It isn't solely about dietary changes or movement. Food is the foundation but movement is important and so is having a healthy upbeat attitude. Do what you can with what you have. There is always a way!

Add in one simple change. This was also covered in my New Year Solutions post. I also think that this along with the baby steps compliment each other. You get to choose what that one simple change is and how long it takes you to make it part of your lifestyle.

This one simple change could include the incorporation of a fitness tool or app. How does one figure out which app or tool is best? The best way may be to ask friends that are into fitness. Another way is to search fitness apps on your smart phone and look at the reviews. 


Let's Talk Fitness Apps & Tools


My Fitness Pal is an app on your smart phone (iPhone or Android) and can be used on a computer.

My Fitness Pal helps you see what you burn with exercise, keeps count of your calories, and has a heart rate monitor, it also puts your foods consumed in a pie chart so you can identify food groups easily, however, I see it is a lot of data entry but they have over 2M foods listed so that's convenient. This app may be suitable for someone who already understands the importance on the quality and source of foods and they are eating somewhat balanced hitting all the food groups (to their preference). Quality and source starts from a firm understanding of ingredients. The other benefit to using My Fitness Pal is that it talks to other apps and two of them are below - FitBit and Runtastic. 

The iPhone has a Nike +iPod chip that goes on your shoe. One runner mentioned that this app doesn't talk to My Fitness Pal but she likes that it's located on her shoe - out of the way and spot on tracking of steps. There is also an app with an iPhone. She keeps her phone in her back pocket, in a hoodie, or in the strap of her sports bra, so that it can track her movement. "You connect your iPod to your computer to upload the data from each outing."

The FitBit Flex keeps track of calories burned and calories consumed. The FitBit can sync to other apps on the smart phone where it uploads the information. One runner said: "I like the FitBit because I don't have to manually input my calories burned. I've had my FitBit Flex for almost 2 months and I really like it." The FitBit Flex also tracks sleep patterns. FitBit One was recommended by a gal who used it to lose weight the year before so that she could have a higher change of conception. She was able to have a baby! The One is different than the Flex as it clips to clothes; the Flex is an armband. 

Another runner: "I learned about the FitBit Flex from my doctor, then I went on to the website to learn a little more. For me personally, it has helped me to better manage my calories because I can see what I'm burning on a normal day and what I'm consuming after I enter in what I ate. Since I have started using the FitBit (right before Thanksgiving) I have lost 12 lbs. I have the My Fitness Pal but I am really bad about entering in my calories burned from exercising. I like that the FitBit does that for me automatically so I have the "instant gratification" of knowing that I am still within my allowable calories for the day."

Runtastic is an app for the smart phone and also has a tracker. It is about $20 cheaper than the FitBit. From what the running groups were sharing, the consensus leaned towards FitBit but it's best for you to do your own research and how much you're willing to spend. 

Oscar Insurance (Hi Oscar) is available for health insurance in New Jersey and in New York; they're a different kind of insurance provider. They want to offer preventative health resources in addition to their standard claims, providers, and benefits coverage. Oscar Insurance just started offering the MisFit Flash to their members for which they can earn a dollar every day for meeting daily personal fitness goals. I really like that they are offering cash rewards for their members. 

So that I don't reinvent the wheel, ACE recently (Jan 2015) wrote a post on the top five fitness trackers and offered up their bottom line (visit their link to see how the five models stacked up against each other). But I will gladly share this: They said that 30-40% of people are more active when they use trackers. I can definitely see that! When I'm food logging, I am much more conscientious of my food choices and when I'm wearing my pedometer, I definitely park even further from the front door and actively look for ways to increase my steps! 


My Thoughts

I personally measure my wellness success on how I feel and how many fruits and vegetables I consumed with clean protein sources. You may like to read more about adding plants for heart health post. Frisky Lemon says that she measures her weight by how many pounds she can squat and how many vegetables she eats. She also says that her weight does not equal her health. 

I currently use a pedometer. It's basic and I'm okay with that for now. I take a weekly average of steps then I try to increase that number by a couple hundred each day the following weeks. Taking averages helps us identify a starting place. I plan to purchase a different tool in the coming weeks and right now, I'm leaning towards a FitBit One but I plan to do more research before I make a final decision. 



Calorie counting, in my opinion, should never be used as the primary marker in one's wellness journey. There should be a focus on quality and source. If your goal is 2,000 calories and you ate 2,000 calories and it was mostly protein and packaged foods well, is that balanced, was it nutrient dense, was it chock full of preservatives and MSG? You can learn all of this in the ingredients list. Make most of your choices real food paying attention to quality and source. This philosophy can be taught with a nutrition consult with me.

Lifestyle changes are sustainable! Choose which one aligns with your needs today and what may compliment where you see yourself next month or next year. If you want to incorporate supplements, do your research on the ingredients and ask if they offer ongoing education with and outside of the product or program you choose. 

Eat real food and incorporate movement every day!

My last tip: Run far away from any program that doesn't offer any education on quality and source of food ingredients or any program that solely teaches calorie counting. You are likely to burn out. Being in-tune with our body is best. Listen to and honor it and give it nourishing foods!

Choose, eat, and live well! =)


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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Double Apple Muffins

Double Apple Muffins 

iConveyAwareness | Double Apple Muffins - Gluten and Dairy Free

Yet another recipe inspiration following the gluten-free and dairy-free food regimen. I must admit that I'm thankful that my family does not have any food restrictions which allows me the freedom to choose almost any kind of ingredient (only real food ingredients). Quality and source matter!!

Today's inspirational recipe hails from Simple Foody. Click on her name for the full recipe. As always, I put my personal spin on the recipe. The reason for my modification today was I didn't have all the ingredients so I subbed hence creating my own version.

I made these muffins the same night I made the grain-free meatloaf as seen here. As soon as my husband came through the door from work he commented, "What ya cookin' good lookin'?" I smiled and said, "Something new!" 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Planted in Wellness: Plants for Heart Health


iConveyAwareness | Planted in Wellness: Plants for Heart Health (cover)

Alarming Heart Health Stats

Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States?!

Let's look at some stats: In this chart, men still have more rates of heart disease than women but women may die from it more than men. Heart disease is the top cause for pregnancy related deaths per studies done in California between 1996-2006 (N. Ostrow, Bloomberg, 17 Nov 2013). 

As of 2010, men and women located in Mississippi have the highest rates of heart disease in the entire nation. Why is that? It is mainly because of the consumption of primarily high (bad) saturated fatty foods. Maybe these other reasons answer that question too ... women put off calling for themselves - because symptoms are different in women than in men. 
More women than men have died from heart disease each year for the past 30 years. And women are more likely than men to die after their first heart attack. (R. Maier, Healthline, 28 Feb 2014)
Why is this? Possibly because their doctors misdiagnose them. Or, women ignore or misinterpret their heart attack signs, such as:
+ chest pain or discomfort
+ upper body pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach shortness of breath
+ nausea, lightheadedness, or cold sweats
I reside in California and I remembered that I published a paper (not available on my blog (yet)) when finishing my Prime Time Health certification in early 2013 and it outlined the stats for Kern County, CA, with regards to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes; some of these states are listed below. 

As of 2006, one third of deaths of females in California were due to heart disease. Do you think these stats are decreasing? Perhaps. It depends largely on the demographics and healthy food resources in each area. 

I know in Kern County as of 2012, almost 60% of the population is dealing with heart disease, diabetes, and/or obesity! There are very few healthy food resources. I consider Ridgecrest a food desert. There are plenty of fast food places and no farmer's markets (we do have Tomato Man but even he said recently (Jan 2015) that he makes more money driving to Pasadena then he does driving down the street (in Ridgecrest) to sell his produce). I do my part by asking the grocery chains to lower their prices on organic produce ($2.99-3.99 a pound for organic apples is ridiculous!) and request that they carry certain brands. I believe things are changing but we have a long ways to go because the education on quality and source (reading and understanding ingredients) is few and far between. 

The health of Kern County residents has become an alarming concern, given the following statistics: 
+ Out of California’s 58 counties, Kern County ranks 58 in incidence of heart disease
+ Out of California’s 58 counties, Kern County ranks 57 in incidence of diabetes
+ More than 60% of Kern County’s population is considered obese
Kern County’s tobacco-use rate, obesity rate, and the number of individuals who are physically inactive are considerably higher than state and national averages (CDC, Kern County Healthy Worksite Initiative).
Kern County is the least healthy in California, and ranks near the bottom in 6 of 8 health indicators out of California’s 58 counties in health factors.
This is alarming! But we can do something about this by being more mindful of our choices and also by being in-tune with our body. Make a mindful shift in your thoughts when it comes to your wellness journey. Consider making baby steps for your improved health. Partner with practitioners that educate (or support your choices for) quality and source of foods consumed.