As parents, we’re all driven to do our best, but sometimes we need to just embrace the messy moments that inevitably come up.
These posts make me happy (and hungry). Passion and heart and all things GOOD in the world. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I want to say it again. THANK YOU for letting me share this space with you and share my heart for gluten free eating. It’s a delight and JOY and today I’m extra delighted to be partnering with World Vision. HEART IS FULL! BELLY IS soon to be full! Best of BOTH WORLD, am I right? Yes.
Let’s chat about how this almond loaf cake recipe came about.
One of my favorite parts of creating recipes is finding healthy ways to stay clear of refined sugars and sweeten them naturally instead. My natural sweeteners of choice are usually one of these:
Desserts made with honey are what I like to call NATURE’S CANDY! With an ingredient as naturally sweet as honey, who needs added sugar? Not me!
Easy Almond Flour Loaf Cake with Honey Roasted Figs. Grain free, Paleo friendly.
Dr. Amen is our go-to for all things brain health-related. His cutting-edge work with brain scans and nutrition research was once considered fringe but has now found it’s rightful place at the forefront of the national discussion on brain health. According to Dr. Amen, “brain imaging research demonstrates that memory loss actually starts in the brain decades before you have any symptoms. There are actions you can take to help prevent memory loss later in life – and even to restore the memory you may have already lost.”
In his latest book, Memory Rescue, Dr. Amen outlines a number of foods that support the health of the brain in a variety of areas. The list below are foods to address mood-specific issues like sleep, anxiety, depression and attention issues. For the full story, pick up Memory Rescue, which we’ve honestly read cover to cover.
He also highlights foods to avoid for optimal brain health, namely: pro-inflammatory foods like processed oils and sugars, alcohol, aspartame (found in diet sodas and gums) and caffeine.
Here are all the foods Dr. Amen names as beneficial for supporting mental health through our diet…
SPICES TO SUPPORT MENTAL HEALTH: saffron, turmeric (curcumin), saffron plus curcumin, peppermint (for attention), cinnamon (for attention, ADHD, irritability).
DOPAMINE-RICH FOODS for focus and motivation: turmeric, theanine from green tea, lentils, fish, lamb, chicken, turkey, beef, eggs, nuts and seeds (pumpkin and sesame), high protein veggies (such as broccoli and spinach), protein powders.
SEROTONIN-RICH FOODS for mood, sleep, pain and craving control: Combine tryptophan-containing foods, such as eggs, turkey, seafood, chickpeas, nuts and seeds (building blocks for serotonin), with healthy carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes and quinoa, to elicit a short-term insulin response that drives tryptophan into the brain. Dark chocolate also increases serotonin.
GABA-RICH FOODS for anti-anxiety: broccoli, almonds, walnuts, lentils, bananas, beef liver, brown rice, halibut, gluten-free whole oats, oranges, rice bran, spinach.
CHOLINE-RICH FOODS: shrimp, eggs, scallops, sardines, chicken, turkey, tuna, cod, beef, collard greens, Brussels sprouts.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES: up to 8 a day helps moods.
GREEN TEA: learn more here.
OMEGA-3-RICH FOODS to support nerve cell membranes and serotonin. Helps manage moods and inflammation.
ANTIOXIDANT-RICH FOODS: acai fruit, parsley, cocoa powder, raspberries, walnuts, blueberries, artichokes, cranberries, kidney beans, blackberries, pomegranates, chocolate, olive, and hemp oil (not for cooking at high temperatures), dandelion green and green tea.
MAGNESIUM-RICH FOODS for anxiety: pumpkin and sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, swiss chard, sesame seeds, beet greens, summer squash, quinoa, black beans, and cashews.
ZINC-RICH FOODS: oysters, beef, lamb, spinach, shiitake and cremini mushrooms, asparagus, sesame and pumpkin seeds.
VITAMIN B6, B12, FOLATE-RICH FOODS: leafy greens, cabbage, bok choy, bell peppers, cauliflower, lentils, asparagus, garbanzo beans, spinach, broccoli, parsley, cauliflower, salmon, sardines, lamb, tuna, beef, and eggs.
PREBIOTIC-RICH FOODS: dandelion greens, asparagus, chia seeds, beans, cabbage, psyllium, artichokes, raw garlic, onions, leeks, root vegetables (sweet potatoes, yams, squash, jicama, beets, carrots, turnips).
The start of a new school year can mean a lot of things, one of which is the inevitable exposure to a multitude of bacteria and germs. As parents, it is our responsibility to help keep our child’s health in tip-top shape and protect them as much as possible from getting sick. While it may be tempting to want to put them in a plastic bubble and send them on their way (if only), that is not reality.
Instead, we can take action steps at home to boost their immune systems so their bodies can fight off these bacterial and viral invaders on their own. In my functional medicine clinic, I see many children with weakened immune systems and have picked up a few kid-friendly tricks along the way. By doing a few key things now before summer is over, you can strengthen your child’s immune system so you both can hopefully take at least one less sick day.
Antibiotics are prescribed more than 154 million times a year for anything from a wound to an ear infection in order to kill off bacterial infections. While they certainly have their place, the CDC estimates that at least 30 percent of antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessaryand have been shown to deplete the good bacteria in your microbiome.
Since close to 75 percent of your immune system is located in your gut, just one round of antibiotics can weaken your child’s immune system. It’s important to avoid antibiotics unless completely necessary and look for natural anti-bacterial options, such as colloidal silver, to avoid sending your child off to school with an already depleted microbiome.
Start the school year off strong by re-establishing good gut bacteria through introducing more probiotic-rich foods into your child’s diet. While your kid is still at home, try feeding them fermented foods like sauerkraut or kefir (which comes in lots of flavors that your kid will, fingers crossed, love).
If you have an extra picky eater, there are many kid-friendly probiotic gummies on the market that will give them a hefty immune-boosting dose of good bacteria. Some still do contain sugar, though, so stick with whole food probiotic sources as much as possible.
With the combination of the sun not setting until much later and the crazy summer activity and travel schedule, a regular bedtime can go out the window. As soon as possible, begin re-establishing a sleep schedule with a set bedtime and wake time—no more sleeping in or staying up late. Most children need between 10 and 14 hours of uninterrupted sleep every day for them to thrive. Starting this sooner, rather than later, will make going back to school less of a struggle and their bodies will be better prepared to fight off any germs that come their way.
Your local farmers’ market is a great way to stock up on locally grown and organic groceries. But often, the markets are so packed with shoppers and overwhelming amounts of produce that it can be hard to navigate your way around.
Being at a farmers’ market – for me – is like being a kid in a candy shop, but there is quite a bit of overstimulation and distractions. Feeling lost? Try bringing a list of produce you need for the week, so if the bakery table aromas distract you (always), the list will help you get back on track.
Larger farmers’ markets usually have an information tent where you can ask about specific foods you’re looking for, find out who the new vendors are and learn about any specials going on for the day.
If you’re unsure what type of vegetable you have in your hand, and how to cook it or preserve it, the best thing to do is ask the farmer. Farmers are a great resource for produce knowledge and most of them really enjoy educating curious buyers about eating locally.
Don’t automatically pass by tables with wilted lettuce or misshaped produce. Like humans, leafy greens get tired from being in the sun all day, but if you run them under cold water for a few minutes they’ll most likely perk back up. And produce that doesn’t look ‘perfect’ probably means it’s free of GMOs. However, if you feel squishy spots or see black blotches, move on.
(But know the etiquette). Once you get to know the farmers, you can ask for a sample of whatever you want to try before buying. And even if you don’t know them, just ask if they can cut you a slice or give you a taste. Just remember to always be respectful as these goods are, literally, the fruits of their labor.
I’ve discovered that if you get to your farmers’ market as soon as it opens there are great discounts offered until the produce runs out. For instance, a great deal on squash at 8:00 AM might be over by 12:00 PM if the farmer sells out. However, if you show up towards the end, farmers are often more willing to throw in extra produce or offer a lower price so they won’t have as many leftovers.