This breakfast is loaded with heart-healthy ingredients like chia seeds, flax seeds, blueberries, and steel cut oats which give it a great texture. Make this the night ahead and bake it up in the morning!
Buckwheat adds a nutty flavor to this not-too-sweet, gluten-free tea cake. You can bake this in a loaf pan or in muffin cups!
This classic Italian Fish Stew makes a light, simple meal that takes less than 30 minutes to make! It’s perfect on its own or with a simple gremolata garnish which is made from lemon zest, garlic, and parsley. It works best with a firm whitefish like swordfish, cod, or halibut.
One of the best parts of summer is juicy watermelon, the quintessential summer fruit! It goes great in recipes, topped on salads, or in this Shrimp and Watermelon Ceviche. I served it on my salt block which adds subtle salty flavor and makes for a pretty presentation! You can serve this as a light lunch or an extra special appetizer!
Health Benefits of Watermelon
Watermelon is one of the most alkalizing foods that you can eat which means that it helps keep your body’s Ph level normal. It is also super hydrating as it is mostly water. Eating watermelon in the summer can help prevent heat stroke due to its high amount of electrolytes.
Did you also know that watermelon is loaded with antioxidants and a great source of Vitamin C? This helps fight cancer and protects your bones and cartilage. It is also a good source of beta-carotene, essential for eye health, as well as potassium which is good for high blood pressure and helps prevent heart disease. Plus, watermelon’s pink color comes from the lycopene in it which has been proven to reduce cholesterol.
This low-calorie fruit is also an excellent go-to for staving off sugar cravings. Not only does the crunchy texture and sweetness satisfy your sweet tooth, the high fiber content also satisfies your hunger. Loaded with vitamins, mineral, and amino acids, watermelon should be a big part your diet in the summer!
I have several very old cast iron pans that have taken lots of abuse. There is just nothing like a well-seasoned cast iron pan that is not only versatile but also one of the healthiest cooking vessels to use. You can virtually cook anything in it, as it easily goes from stovetop to oven, as with this super-simple Gluten-free Dutch Baby for a quick and easy breakfast.
A well-seasoned cast iron pan is naturally non-stick so you can skip all of those chemicals used to make nonstick pans that are toxic and break down at high temperatures. Even modern non-stick pans use chemicals that can break down and cause fumes under high heat. Also, once you scratch them, they are no good anymore. Cast-iron is virtually scratch proof. Even if you do abuse it and cause damage, you just start over again and give it a new surface.
To maintain your cast iron, it is best to clean it while it is still warm. Don’t soak it. Use hot water and a plastic scraper or brush. Never use soap or put it in the dishwasher. Stuck on food can be removed with a sponge and some kosher salt. Dry your pan immediately and then wipe a very light coat of coconut oil over the entire surface. Each time you cook with it, it get’s better and better!
This Endive and Lettuce Salad with Scallops and Pistachios makes a perfect summer dinner! The pistachios bring out the nutty flavor of the scallops and it only takes minutes to prepare!
If you live near the coast, buy your scallops fresh from your local fish store. If not, quick frozen scallops are a great choice. Scallops are often soaked in phosphate which is the same ingredient used in soap and detergent, so make sure you look for scallops labeled “chemical free” or “dry-packed.”
The key to cooking perfect scallops is to dry them thoroughly. Then use a good hot pan and only cook them for one to two minutes per side.
I found this huge organic asparagus at the farmer’s market today which makes the perfect summer soup. The cashews make this Dairy-free Creamy Asparagus Soup thick and creamy without heavy cream! You can skip though, for a nut-free version.
This is my go-to recipe for any simple creamed vegetable soup. You can swap out the asparagus for any vegetable you like such as zucchini, broccoli, or even a combination like cauliflower and asparagus, or carrot.
Warm cinnamon raisin bread is such a special treat and easy to make even without the gluten! This gluten-free Ceylon cinnamon raisin bread is loaded with raisins as well as sweet Ceylon cinnamon. It is deliciously moist on its own or toasted and it makes fantastic French Toast!
Are you eating real cinnamon?
Cinnamon is a favorite spice for most of us and it is well-known for its healing properties and ability to regulate blood sugar. I thought all cinnamon was the same until I visited a spice vendor at a farmer’s market and learned that the cinnamon most us have in our pantries is actually considered fake cinnamon in the spice world. This is usually cassia cinnamon and what you will find in your grocery store.
That is when he introduced me to Ceylon, or “true” cinnamon and WOW! It blew me away. The aroma alone is incredibly sweet and pleasing. There are also many more health benefits from Ceylon as it contains high amounts of antioxidant compounds called proanthocyanadins. Ceylon cinnamon has also been shown to improve digestive health as well as naturally lower high blood pressure
Cassia cinnamon contains high levels of coumarin, a blood thinner, which in high amounts can be toxic to the liver. So if you are using cinnamon every day, switch to Ceylon.
You are exercising, eating healthy, but you just keep adding weight on? What’s going on? Stress can absolutely wreak havoc on your metabolism. If you are having trouble losing weight, one thing to consider is reducing stress in your life as chronic stress can cause you to gain weight.
Cortisol and weight gain
When you are under stress, the adrenal gland produces cortisol. If you are experiencing chronic stress, then your cortisol levels can become elevated which can really mess with your metabolism. It can leave you feeling tired, which makes you less likely to exercise. If your cortisol levels remain high, your body signals you to replenish your energy with food that you are unlikely to use up. Your body will also slow down your metabolism to save energy to deal with the threat that is causing you to feel stressed.
It is this increase in cortisol that can also cause you to crave unhealthy foods that comfort you.
Over time, high cortisol levels will lead to a decrease in muscle mass, which causes you to burn fewer calories. Thus you may gain weight.
Cortisol and belly fat
Chronic stress levels can lead to increased belly fat. A Yale study showed that even in women that are not overweight, higher levels of cortisol are correlated with excess belly fat.
There is a reason for that. Increased cortisol in your fat cells can trigger them to grow because of an enzyme called HSD. Fat cells deep in your abdomen contain more HSD than your other fat cells. So that’s where the fat ends up, around the belly. High cortisol causes our bodies to store fat, especially around our organs, instead of using it.
Sleep and stress
Stress is the biggest factor in keeping you from getting a good night’s sleep. A lack of sleep caused by stress disrupts the chemicals in your brain that control your appetite. Also, if you are tired, you a more likely to crave carbohydrates or drink coffee, which continues to disrupt your sleep cycle, and you go in circles with ups and downs of energy throughout the day. This can lead you to crave sugar or other carbohydrate-laden foods for more energy.
Thyroid Function and stress
One of the main concerns with chronic stress is impaired thyroid function. Thyroid disease is becoming epidemic in western countries. The thyroid is a gland in the neck that produces hormones. The most important of these is T3 and T4. These hormones convert calories into energy and are therefore the master of metabolism. If you are not producing enough of these hormones, it is common to gain weight.
Periods of prolonged stress can inhibit the bodies conversion from T4 to T3 and can cause reverse T3. In this case, it is almost impossible to lose weight. Be sure to get your thyroid checked by your doctor.
Reducing Cortisol to Lose Weight
To reduce cortisol, you must work to reduce your stress levels. Find techniques that help you calm down. Taking a walk, a long hot bath, deep breathing, acupuncture, and massage are just to name a few.
Even during prolonged stressful circumstances, you can keep your hormone levels from staying elevated. First, eat a diet consisting of whole foods that are anti-inflammatory.
Reduce your sugar, caffeine, and alcohol consumption. Eat Fat, fiber, and protein at every meal or snack to help keep your blood sugar and hormone levels normal, which will help you manage those cravings!
We all know that exercise is good for us, but particularly light exercise releases endorphins into the body which helps us to relieve stress,
Get enough sleep
A good nights sleep is essential to reducing stress. Turn your screens off at least two hours before bedtime. Turn the power off on your cell phone as the wi-fi signal can disrupt your sleep cycle. Try reading a book to wind down or listen to soft music. Chamomile tea is a natural sleep remedy that helps to relax you and reduces your cortisol levels. If you are having trouble falling asleep, eight ounces of tart cherry juice contains natural melatonin that can naturally help with insomnia. You could take a magnesium supplement if needed. In addition, don’t eat three hours before bedtime. Your body needs to wind down and rest, and food revs you back up again as the body has to work to digest.
It is important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. I use this Berkey System to filter my water so that it’s as pure as possible.
There has been so much research on laughter affecting our health and particular reducing our stress. So have fun, play with your kids, watch a funny movie, and have a good laugh.
Eat Dark Chocolate
Ok, that’s my favorite advice, and also my go to in times of stress. Flavonols in dark chocolate reduce cortisol, just go for at 70% chocolate and the least amount of sugar. Nothing to feel guilty about here?
There are so many ways to naturally reduce your stress, which may be contributing to your weight. It’s time to take control! If you have any questions, comment below!
Tomiyama, A. Janet, et al. “Low-Calorie Dieting Increases Cortisol.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 May 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2895000/.
Seematter, G, et al. “Stress and Metabolism.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 8 Mar. 2005, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18370704.