Nutrition

10 AWESOME HEALTHY SNACKS FOR QUARANTINE… AND BEYOND

Last week I took a poll on Instagram asking what my next blog post topic should be and overwhelmingly, the top reply was about healthy snacking options. I totally get it – with everyone at home because of COVID-19 it seems like we are eating all day long, doesn’t it? It’s not just the kids, though. I love snacking too with serious cravings for something sweet or dark chocolatey and it has definitely been more difficult to control these urges with such easy access to the kitchen all day. So I put together a compilation of my family’s favorite healthy snacks and treats and hopefully they will become yours as well. Snacking is totally OK when done right!

This blog post took longer to write than I expected because let’s face it, having the kids (and husband) home all day makes everything take longer! With the frequent interruptions of “I’m hungry”, “I have no idea what this teacher is talking about,” “My head hurts from staring at a computer screen all day”, “Just one more thing”, and “I’m bored”s, it’s an actual miracle I get anything done at all. But as an eternal optimist (not always but I try!), I take it in stride, since truth be told, I am rather enjoying having them around to share a laugh, a thought, or even a deep meaningful conversation between classes. Not to mention, the Holistic Nutritionist side of me loves knowing they cannot consume any junk food they would typically buy at school or get from their friends……ha!

I wanted to share with you everything we truly love and snack on around here including stuff you can easily make from scratch and a couple of store-bought options – so I plowed through and hopefully there aren’t any typos or bad links! Would love to hear your feedback in the comments. Enjoy!

Please note: some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I personally use all of the products listed below and recommend them. All food products mentioned are strictly Kosher at the time this post was published. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns about any of the products mentioned.

1. Healthy 3 Ingredient Chocolate Banana Ice Cream

I found this super easy, delicious and nutritious ice cream one day when looking for ways to use my Vitamix to make a quick healthy treat. I had made ice cream this way before but with lots of ice which tends to make it less creamy and more like sorbet. Not that there’s anything wrong with sorbet – but if you want something closer to the texture of real ice cream in less than 5 minutes, this is the way to go!

Note that you definitely need a high speed blender for this one; a regular one just doesn’t have the power to get the job done. Get the awesome recipe HERE and top with some healthy favorites like organic gogi berries, sliced almonds or chocolate chips – we like the Enjoy Life brand mini chips.

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2. Easy Kale chips

My family LOVES kale chips and with good reason: they provide the same crunch you want from a chip but with so many more health benefits, not to mention a lot less calories! Kale is a great source of many important nutrients, including fiber, vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin C. It supports hearth health, aids in detoxification and more. Want to learn more about the benefits of kale? Click HERE for all the nutrition info and health benefits.

While making kale chips in a dehydrator will get them perfectly dry and crispy while staying raw, if you don’t have the time, patience or a dehydrator for that matter, then this is the next best way to do it. Watch THIS VIDEO to learn how to make quick and easy kale chips.

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3. Ginger Oat Bites

A quick and easy recipe made in the food processor, these raw bites contain fresh anti-inflammatory ginger, healthy fat almonds and walnuts along with organic oats for energy. No baking required, just form into balls and eat….. Delicious! Get the full recipe HERE.

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4. Spicy Roasted Chickpeas and Cinnamon Spice Chickpeas

Some of you might know I did the culinary nutrition program last year run by the awesome Meghan Telpner. Along with the incredible knowledge and insight I gained into the world of healthy cooking, I also love many of the recipes from her book, UnDiet as well as her blog. These roasted chickpeas 2 different ways are no exception and kids love them too! Click HERE for both recipes and to learn about the health benefits of chickpeas.

weight, Rebecca Lazar - 10 AWESOME HEALTHY SNACKS FOR QUARANTINE... AND BEYOND

5. Cut Up Veggies with 3 dips: Almond Turmeric, Avocado or Hummus

As a Holistic Nutritionists we are supposed to advise everyone to have fresh cut up veggies for snack but to be honest, I could never eat them plain. If you are like me, you definitely need something tasty to dip them into in order to enjoy them to their fullest potential. Well here we have 3 choices of delicious dips for your cut up peppers, carrots, celery, cucumber, and any other vegetable you choose. Shown below is the Almond Turmeric Dip. The other awesome dips are Avocado – or as I like to call it, Gorgeously Green Guacamole, and my favorite Sesame-free Hummus.

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6. Rice Crackers with Almond Butter, Banana, and Freeze Dried Fruit

Rice cakes have long gotten a bad rep for being a high glycemic, empty calorie food. But I disagree; when it comes to healthy snacking, these super thin whole grain rice crackers, made with organic puffed rice along with added healthy fats and antioxidant toppings are simply perfection! We love these Lundberg Stackers with organic almond butter and topped with sliced banana – or crushed freeze dried banana as shown below, crushed organic freeze dried blueberries or raw cacao nibs. Kids don’t like the bitter taste of cacao nibs? substitute with a few mini chocolate chips from the Enjoy Life brand mentioned earlier.

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7. Acai Bowl

Acai berries – and other “superfruits” such as macqui berry – have been all the rage lately and with good reason. These berries are rich in antioxidants and have been shown to decrease LDL “bad” cholesterol, boost brain function and even help prevent cancer.

The majority of store bought acai bowls are so full of added sugar and not-quite-healthy ingredients that you aren’t really getting the benefits you want. A healthy acai bowl is super easy to make with just frozen bananas, frozen berries, almond milk and acai powder or macqui berry powder -or both! Like the 3 Ingredient Ice Cream, this one is best in a high speed blender such as the Vitamix. Get the full recipe HERE. Top with any fruit, nut or seed you want….. or just enjoy it as is!

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8. Organic Green Popcorn

While there are a lot of options for store-bought organic popcorn these days, making your own is always more fun and delicious – and you get to choose which toppings to put on. There is nothing quite like the smell of fresh popped popcorn and with an inexpensive air popper the calories are around 30 per cup (without added oil)! I always recommend using organic popcorn kernels since the majority of conventional corn in this country is genetically modified and full of pesticides.

For the recipe below, make the popcorn following the machine instructions and add organic spirulina powder, or other superfood green blend you prefer, along with chili powder and Himalayan pink salt to taste. Why spirulina? Other than the green popcorn “cool” factor for the kids, it is high in natural anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals, essential for a healthy body and mind. Spirulina is also a good source of protein and iron – great for vegans looking for more ways to incorporate since it can often be lacking in a vegan diet.

I have to give credit to my friend Sharon Langert for helping me style this photo while I lamented my lack of food photography skills on a hilarious whatsapp chat!

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9. Sea Snax

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The slogan for these little snax is they are addictive; and they really are as I discovered after we purchased a family pack and it was gone in less than 10 minutes! SeaSnax is the original vegan, gluten-free, Non-GMO Project Verified seaweed snack that is lightly roasted using organic seaweed, 100% organic extra virgin olive oil and just a pinch of sea salt. There are no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Not only are they oddly addictive and delicious out of the box but you can use them as mini sushi rolls to add other vegetables too (along with one of the dips mentioned above!) or shred them to add to salad. With only 15 calories per serving and containing minerals such as iodine, manganese and iron you really can’t go wrong.

10. Made Good Granola Minis

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This is granola done right – and one of my kids all time favorite snacks. With hidden veggies and fruit in each serving and free from the 8 most common food allergens, you really can feel good about giving this one to the kids.

Eat them straight out of the bag or crush them to top organic plain greek yogurt with a drizzle of organic maple syrup – a much healthier version of those granola topped yogurts you find at the store!

There are of course, many other healthy snack options out there but be careful of hidden ingredients or misleading food labels. Organic products can be full of added sugar and the word “natural” on a food label doesn’t actually mean anything. Always go with ingredients you can pronounce and understand and products that have little to no added sugar – different than the naturally occurring sugars found in fruit. When purchasing dried fruit, organic is important in order to avoid artificial colors and sulphites (a preservative) which can cause allergies and have other detrimental health effects. It’s always best to (lightly) sweeten things yourself using organic honey, coconut sugar or organic maple syrup which contain naturally occurring minerals and enzymes. Check out this post about Ingredients to Avoid as well as this hilarious video to learn more!

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10 TIPS FOR HEALTHY EATING ON PASSOVER

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I often get a number of messages this time of year with clients, friends or family at a Kosher grocery store holding up a picture of a food product and asking me if I “approve” it as a healthy food choice for Pesach (Passover).  This year, there has been a lot less of that; whether people have too many other things to worry about because of Covid-19 or they simply aren’t spending as much time at the grocery store, I don’t know but I actually miss those messages!  Some of them were sent to make me laugh:  “How much of this cottonseed oil do I have to consume before I become genetically modified?” or “If I cross out the bad ingredients on this one with a Sharpie, can I use it?”

Messages from people trying to lose weight went along the lines of “If I promise to eat organic spelt matzah can I also buy this 7 layer colored chocolate cake – how bad could it be, it’s made with eggs?” while others genuinely want to know how it’s possible to eat healthy with the current products available, such as “Where do I find almond milk for Pesach that doesn’t taste disgusting?” (Answer: You can’t; it doesn’t exist).

As I discuss in this post, now more than ever we need to make sure we stay as healthy as possible and don’t consume things that will further weaken our immune system.  Not because it will stave off a pandemic but rather because if you do get the virus, your immune system will be strong and you will recover with mild symptoms.

Eating healthy on Passover is definitely more challenging than other times during the year.  Many of our favorite healthy/organic brands are not Kosher for Passover.  There is a SO much pre-packaged ready made “convenient” food that we are tempted to skip making the meals and snacks from scratch and buy them instead, looking away at the unhealthy ingredients and tons of sugar we know are in there. 2 weeks, we tell ourselves; how much damage can it do? I believe that if you have made a commitment to a healthier diet and lifestyle then it’s important to ignore those “convenient foods” as much as we can and make things from scratch with whole REAL foods and ingredients.

Now that all of us are at home and cooking for our families, we can get the kids involved and make the Pesach meal prep a family fun time.  Ask them what they would like to try – go through recipes online or in  cookbooks like this one or this one and see what healthy recipes interest them.  While many of the recipes call for unhealthy ingredients, it’s easy to swap or eliminate those ingredients in most cases (if there are too many, just skip that particular recipe.)  My kids and I did this today and it was interesting to see what new recipes they wanted to try and the (mostly) healthy menu plan we were able to put together.

Here are my top 10 tips for eating healthy on Passover:

1. Buy organic potatoes

I know what you’re thinking: “A gazillion pounds of organic potatoes will cost me a fortune!” But this isn’t the case; organic potatoes are really not much more than conventional ones.  The reason to spend a little extra? A 2006 U.S.D.A. test found 81 percent of potatoes tested still contained pesticides after being washed and peeled, and the potato has one of the highest pesticide contents of 43 fruits and vegetables tested, according to the Environmental Working Group.  So with all those potatoes being eaten on Passover, it’s a much better choice.  Thankfully, organic potatoes are still readily available in health food stores such as Greenwise or Whole Foods.

2. Buy organic eggs

Much like potatoes, we typically go through a gazillion eggs on Pesach so it’s important that they are as healthy as possible. This means no hormones, antibiotics or genetically modified ingredients are in the chicken feed.  This is a lot more difficult than buying organic potatoes this year, at least here in Florida where they only allow 1 dozen eggs per purchase but it’s still worth a try. Note that eggs labeled Omega-3 are not the same thing and this causes a lot of confusion among consumers.  The Omega-3 label simply means that flax seeds have been added to the feed.  To get the most health benefits, organic eggs are the best choice.

3. Use organic spelt matzah instead of wheat 

Spelt is nutritionally superior to wheat and easier to digest.  While spelt does contain gluten, the gluten content is less, and many people sensitive to wheat find they can tolerate spelt.  (Note that spelt is not suitable for those with celiac disease or those on a gluten-free diet).  Even if you aren’t sensitive to wheat, another benefit to choosing spelt instead is that it remains unaffected by concepts such as ‘agribusiness’, ‘cross-breeding,’ ‘hybridization’ and ‘genetically modified’ – words that have come to dominate our modern food supply.  What does this mean to you? Less toxic substances and chemicals being consumed, better for your health.  It is easy to find Organic Spelt Matzoh at your local grocery store.  If you are celiac or cannot tolerate gluten at all, oat matza is a good option, although I personally don’t like the taste.

4. Cook, bake and buy products only made with hexane-free grapeseed oil, avocado oil and/or organic coconut oil instead of cottonseed oil

According to most health experts, cottonseed oil is one of the unhealthiest oils ever!  Cottonseed oil contains natural toxins because in order to extract oil from cottonseed, these seeds have to be modified genetically.  The oil also contains unacceptably high levels of pesticide residues, since cotton is not classified as a food crop and farmers use many agrichemicals when growing it.  Additionally, since there is a similarity in the molecular structures of cottonseed and peanut oil, some people who are allergic to peanuts also suffer from the same allergic reactions after consuming cottonseed oil.  Interesting, right? Why every single packaged Pesach product contains cottonseed oil in 2020 is a mystery to me.  It seems the Kosher brands have a lot of nutrition science to catch up to!

Grapeseed, avocado and coconut oil can all be used for moderate to high heat cooking while organic olive oil is great for salads and lower heat cooking or baking.

5. Bake, don’t buy, Pesach cakes and desserts 

In addition to saving you lots of money, baking your own cakes for Pesach has many benefits over purchasing ready-made ones.  First, you can significantly decrease the amount of sugar in almost every Pesach cake recipe, without affecting the final result; in fact, it actually tastes a lot better!  Second, you can use Organic sugar or even coconut sugar which has a lower glycemic index and lower pesticide residue.  Third, commercial Pesach cakes are loaded with chemicals and preservatives in order to increase their shelf life, contains food coloring, unnatural flavoring and cottonseed oil.  Baking your own allows you to use the healthier oils and eggs mentioned above, eliminates the need for chemicals and gives you the opportunity to incorporate ingredients like organic raw almonds or walnuts for omega 3’s to add healthy fatty acids as well as fiber.  Choose recipes that have the lowest amounts of potato starch and preferably no matzoh meal/cake meal for the healthiest result.

6. Drink dry red wine at the Seder

Many of my friends will love this one! Red wine has some antioxidant properties as well as bioflavonoids, which help to fight free radicals — the damaging agents in your body that can lead to heart disease and cancer. What this means is that the cups of wine you consume for the Seder can offer some health benefits so skip the sweet wines which are loaded with sugar.

If you or your children are drinking grape juice at the Seder, use organic grape juice with no sulfites. Sulfites, or sodium/potassium metabasulfite as it is commonly labelled, are a potential food allergen that can cause headache, facial flushing and itching and are found in all wines and grape juice unless it specifies “sulphite-free” on the label.  It is more difficult to obtain wine without sulphites, but if you tend to get any of those reactions after drinking wine, you might consider making the switch. That being said, some people get a reaction due to other substances in wine. Since white wine often has a higher sulfite levels than red wines, if you don’t react to white wine, then you know that it’s something in red wine other than sulfites that is causing the problem.

7. Stick to whole foods

Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables! To switch things up a bit, try making ones you rarely eat during the year along with lots of different types of salads, roasted vegetables, fish, chicken, turkey and lean meats.  Don’t forget healthy carb options like quinoa and sweet potatos and drink plenty of water.  Simple recipes not only taste delicious, they are healthier and make your life in the kitchen easier!

8. Make your own mayonnaise

I don’t know about you but I can’t seem to find Pesach mayo that is all natural, let alone that tastes good! They have so many chemicals, along with the dreaded cottonseed oil and preservatives that give it a super weird taste.  I started making my own mayo a few years ago and never looked back.  If you haven’t tried that yet, I highly recommend it.

9. Skip the dairy

Dairy products are highly inflammatory, likely due to the amount of hormones and antibiotics in them.  But even if you use only organic milk it is extremely allergenic and not something I recommend for most people. On the other hand, organic yogurt is well tolerated by most people but impossible to find for Pesach.  Almost every brand is loaded with chemicals and preservatives that are not only harmful but also taste pretty terrible.  If you will really miss your yogurt, the only brand I have personally found that is made with no added sugar and simple ingredients is Mehadrin plain Greek yogurt.  You can always add coconut sugar or organic honey to sweeten along with fresh fruit.

But what about milk? As mentioned earlier, good tasting almond milk is a great option but impossible to get for Pesach.  Making your own almond milk is super easy and delicious.  Any good quality blender and nut milk bag will do the job and the milk can be stored in mason jars for up to 5 days or frozen in ice cube trays.

10.  Check ingredients

If you do want to purchase packaged food items for Pesach, always look at the ingredients and see this list for what to avoid. It may seem like everything you pick up at the store has one or more of these ingredients but you can definitely find more options than have been available in previous years.  Don’t want to spend time at the grocery store because of Covid-19? I totally get it. In that case look online before heading to the store.  You can also check out the Passover highlight on my Instagram page.

Stay safe, wash your hands, eat healthy and hopefully life will get back to normal real soon! Do you follow any of these healthy guidelines? Let me know in the comments! In the meantime, wishing you all a Chag Kasher V’sameach! happy

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DO YOU SUFFER FROM CHRONIC BLOATING?

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If you are constantly bloated seemingly no matter what you eat, have gas pain and discomfort, and feel like you wake up in the morning with a flat stomach but look preggers by the end of the day, read on!

MY IBS STORY:

As a child I suffered from chronic stomach pains but at the time I did not realize that “stomach” pains actually meant “lower intestinal” pains.  After enduring a bunch of medical tests in my teen years, my Doctor told me I had IBS.  He also gave me a post-it note – seriously, you can’t make this stuff up – with a short list of foods to avoid: Caffeine, spicy foods, fried foods, chocolate and popcorn. No explanation, no discussion on anything I was eating (and I was eating a LOT of crap) and no advice on anything else that could help.  Giving up these foods was difficult for me, I was a teenager after all and my Doctor literally took away my 5 favorite food groups, but I tried for about a month.  Not surprisingly, it did not help at all and if you read on, you’ll see why – and not just because the rest of my food intake was a bunch of poor choices.

So, what exactly is IBS?  It stands for “Irritable Bowel Syndrome” and in the medical world basically means, “We can’t find anything seriously wrong with you, but your intestines are irritated for some reason – possibly stress and anxiety and too much spicy food – and we have no way to fix it other than to offer meds that may or may not help, but will probably make your symptoms worse in the long run.”  OK, fine maybe that’s not exactly what it means, but you get the point.

All joking aside, an IBS diagnosis is given when other serious gastrointestinal diseases such as celiac disease, bowel cancer, Chron’s disease and also some gynecological conditions are ruled out.  The most common symptoms of IBS are lower abdominal discomfort, bloating, excessive gas and also alternating diarrhea and constipation.

Well, as it turns out, some folks at Monash University have been researching IBS and these types of symptoms for a long time and have a diet program that really helps.  Even if you haven’t officially been diagnosed with IBS, if you have the symptoms mentioned above and have ruled out other more serious issues, this program is definitely worth a try.  It helped me tremendously and I follow it for several weeks when I have a flare up.  At other times I follow a wholesome, nutrient-dense, fiber-rich, gluten-free eating plan with foods made mostly from scratch. By the way, this includes dark chocolate, some awesome spices and even organic popcorn! My old Doctor would have been so disappointed….

WELCOME LOW-FODMAPS

The program I am referring to is the Low-FODMAP diet.  FODMAP stands for Fermentable Olig-saccharides, Di-saccharides, Mono-saccharides and Polyols.  These sugars can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine and fermented by bacteria to produce gas.  Current research strongly suggests that this group of sugars contributes to IBS symptoms.

Even though some FODMAPs are poorly absorbed in ALL people – think of what happens when you eat beans, for example – the reason such strong symptoms only occur in those with IBS can be due to a hypersensitivity in the gut and/or Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (otherwise known as SIBO)What this means is that in some individuals, the bacteria that are normally located in the large intestine, move up into the small intestine which creates the symptoms of IBS.

Now, not all individuals diagnosed with IBS react to ALL of the different types of FODMAPs.  Some of the FODMAPs can be tested using a special breath test that can determine malabsorption, but others cannot be tested and should simply be avoided to help relieve symptoms.  The test itself is controversial and can have false results but is helpful under the right circumstances.

SOME HIGH-FODMAP FOODS TO AVOID WITH IBS:

  • Fruits such as Apples, Pears, Plums and Watermelon
  • Garlic (garlic infused oil can be used instead: simply cut up 1 whole bulb – not clove – of fresh garlic, add to 1 cup organic cold-pressed olive oil and gently heat on the lowest setting until fragrant; remove from heat, let cool and strain the oil into a glass bottle)
  • Onions (the green part of the spring onion and chives may be used instead, as well an Indian spice called Asafetida powder that has a strong onion/garlic flavor, but I have not personally tried it)
  • Beans
  • FOS: Fructo-oligo-sacharides, often found in Probiotic supplements
  • Nuts such as cashews and pistachios

There are a number of foods to be avoided and others that can be consumed in small quantities at a time such as asparagus, butternut squash, almonds and some dairy products as well as gluten containing grains like wheat and rye.  That being said, in my experience it’s best to avoid ALL gluten containing grains and dairy with IBS. For details on the exact types and quantities of the foods to be limited or avoided, you can download the official Monash University Low Fodmap app or where you can search individual foods or purchase this book.  For breath testing, and/or to discuss your particular health challenges and food sensistive that may also play a role in IBS, contact me for a personalized wellness plan.

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INGREDIENTS TO AVOID

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I’m sure most of you know by now that just because a product is on your grocery store shelf, doesn’t mean it’s healthy for you.  We all try to avoid processed candy, cookies and foods we are absolutely certain are not healthy for us or our children.  But what some of you may not know is that many ingredients found in packaged and processed foods are REALLY bad for your health and in some cases downright scary!

Many packaged foods contain additives and preservatives; are made with genetically modified ingredients (always look for the non-GMO-certified label if you are not sure).  These items have detrimental effects on the body, especially if consumed in excess.  It is important to not only read nutritional labels for protein, carbs, sugar and fats, but to read the full list of ingredients as well.  In this way, you will learn which foods are beneficial to your health and which are not.  There are almost always healthier versions of your favorite packaged foods that do not contain these harmful ingredients.  By shopping at health food stores such as Whole Foods or online at www.Vitacost.com you have the ability to make better choices for you and your family. While they may be a little more expensive, the health benefits you will get are well worth it.

The following, while not a complete list, are common food additives to avoid whenever possible:

Additive: 

            Used in:

           Possible Effects:

Acesulfame Potassium, Acesulfame-K (Ace-K)  

Protein powders, Bodybuilding powders, “diet” products.  Usually combined with Aspartame to mask its chemical aftertaste.

Due to containing methylene chloride, may cause nausea, headaches, mood problems, impairment of the liver and kidneys, problems with eyesight, hypoglycemia and possibly cancer.

Acacia Gum (Gum Arabic)

Chewing gum, candies, frosting, soft drinks & related beverages

Asthma attacks, skin rashes, pregnancy and fetal development problems.

Alginic Acid

Ice cream and other frozen desserts, salad dressings, cheese spreads and dips

Pregnancy complications and birth defects.

Aspartame (brand name Nutrasweet), E951

Diet and sugar-free soft drinks, gum, candy, instant desserts (Jello, puddings), sugar-free gum, drink mixes (Crystal light, Kool Aid), cough syrup

Mental confusion, rashes, depression, anxiety, headaches, nausea, seizures, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, insomnia.

Benzoic Acid

Margarine, beer, pickled vegetables, soft drinks, jelly, jams, fruit juice, barbecue sauce

Asthma attacks, rashes, irritation of eyes and mucuos membranes, hyperactivity in children, neurological disorders

BHA and BHT

Chewing gum, candy, enriched rice, most major grocery store brands of cereal, shortening, desserts & deli meats.

Elevated cholesterol, liver and kidney damage, infertility, sterility, immune disorders, increased susceptibility to carcinogens, behavioral problems in children.

Calcium Chloride

Dairy products

Gastrointestinal irritations

Calcium Disodium EDTA

Mayonnaise, dressing, canned beans, canned potatoes

Blood in urine, intestinal upset, kidney damage, muscle cramping.

Common Food Dyes/Food colouring, especially Yellow #5 (Tartrazine; E102)

Candy, cereal, soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit cocktails, maraschino cherries, cherry pie mix, ice cream, ices, bakery products, American cheese, packaged macaroni & cheese

Hyperactivity & behavioral problems in children (ADD/ ADHD), asthma, migraine headaches, kidney and adrenal damage, allergic reactions

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

Most processed foods, breads, candy, flavored yogurts, salad dressings, cereals, cookies

Increases LDL “bad” cholesterol levels, contributes to the development of obesity and diabetes.

   

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), autolyzed yeast extract

Chinese food, salt substitutes, soups, condiments, bouillon cubes, spices & seasonings, potato chips, frozen dinners, lunch meats

Allergic reactions, headaches, eye inflammation, brain edema, central nervous and vascular system problems, obesity (shuts off the feeling of being full), depression and fatigue.

Potassium Bromate

Some breads

Cancer

Sodium Benzoate & Potassium Sorbate

Soft drinks, packaged spreads such as hummus, tahini, etc., Yogurts

Allergic reaction; “chemical” taste in foods.

Sodium/Potassium Sulfite or Metabisulfite or Sulphites

Dried fruits (if does NOT contain, label must state “sulphite free” or “unsulphited”), wine

Headaches, asthma attacks, allergic reactions such as flushing, redness, itchiness.

Sodium Nitrate/Nitrite

Hot dogs, smoked fish, smoked meats & luncheon meats ie. Pastrami, salami, corned beef

Birth defects, cancer – nitrates can combine with chemicals in the stomach to form nitrosamine, a highly carcinogenic substance.

Splenda/Sucralose

“Diet” foods, cake mixes and snacks, low-calorie beverages, diet soft drinks

Shrunken thymus, enlarged liver/kidneys (shown in lab rats who consumed Splenda)

Sulphur Dioxide, E220

Beer, soft drinks, dried fruit, juices, wine, vinegar, potato products

Bronchial problems, asthma, flushing, tingling sensations, destruction of vitamins B1 & Vitamin E in the body.

Tertiary butydroquinone (TBHG)

Candy bars, baking sprays, fast foods

Childhood behavioral problems.

Trans Fat, Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil

Margarine, chips, crackers, baked goods & fast foods

Increases LDL “bad” cholesterol levels while decreasing HDL “good” cholesterol, increased risk of heart attacks, heart disease, and strokes, contributes to increased inflammation.

www.RealHealthFit.com

Please feel free to print this list and take it with you when shopping at you local grocery store; look through the food items in your fridge and pantry to see which items contain these ingredients and slowly switch them for healthier products.  Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions regarding this list or if you think other ingredients should be included. 

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WHY EVERY WOMAN SHOULD TRY THE BODY BEAST PROGRAM

When the Beachbody Program Body Beast first came out at the end of 2012, I was extremely hesitant to try it as it seemed like it was designed solely for men, in particular men who just wanted to “get huge!”  Check out this original promo video and you’ll see why it took me a while to dive in.

This would definitely appeal to men and teenage boys everywhere, but many women have a fear of getting bulky muscles and try to avoid heavy weightlifting.  While women don’t have enough testosterone to get “huge,” I was still a little wary mostly due to the fact that the Body Beast guide booklet had no caloric intake equation specifically for women. If I used the calculations in the book I’d be consuming 2800 calories a day, about 800 more than I typically consume…..Yikes!  I also knew I’d either have to decrease the weights on the “leg day” workout or swap it out for another program because heavy weights with squats and lunges have always left me with huge quads, a look I personally don’t like.  (If that doesn’t happen to you or you like the look, then go for it!)

A program with weightlifting, very little cardio, and lots of food where the outcome is a toned, more defined body? A variety of workouts so you never get bored, all in less than an hour a day (sometimes just 35 minutes)?  This program was my dream…..if the workouts were doable and enjoyable, of course!

As it turns out, I really enjoyed the workouts and the training style of Sagi Kalev.  I know that some people don’t like his “musclehead” demeanor, or the fact that English is his second language (he’s Israeli), but honestly it didn’t bother me at all.   Sure, his humor is cheesy, and he seems to make fun of his workout buddies quite often, but who cares?  He knows his stuff, is an excellent motivator and he gets the job done.

ABOUT THE PROGRAM:

The complete program is 90 days.  Each day is divided into a different body part – the first 3 and the last 3 weeks are broken down by Chest/Triceps, Back/Biceps, Legs, Shoulders, and Cardio while the middle 6 weeks are each individual muscle group – Chest, Back, Legs, Arms and Shoulders.  Since you are working out 6 days a week but there are only 5 different workouts per week, the rest day changes each week.  I didn’t love this aspect of the program, since I’m used to taking a rest day the same day each week but, hey, nothing’s perfect.

There is an option for 2 bonus workouts, Tempo Back & Biceps and Tempo Chest & Triceps.  These are a great addition to the program, especially if you get bored easily and need more variety in your workouts.  The Body Beast workout calendar (see below) includes these workouts as an option to replace some of the Build Back & Bis and/or Build Chest & Tris workouts on the specified days.  The main difference between the workouts is the speed in which you perform each repetition – much slower in the Tempo workouts.  This requires more patience, though, so if you don’t like performing reps at a very slow pace then skip it.

beast calendar

There is an option for a somewhat different schedule, called “Lean Beast” which includes more cardio sessions in the rotation of workouts.  For women, I would only suggest Lean Beast if you have more than 15 lb. to lose, since you will definitely burn more calories at rest with more muscle and therefore lose weight, even on the “Huge Beast” schedule.

The workouts are as challenging as you make them based on the weight you lift, so lift as heavy as you can and keep track of your weights using either the Body Beast app (available with purchase of the program) or the BodyBeast Worksheets. You can take these sheets with you and workout at the gym, which makes it super convenient to stick to the program while traveling.  Sagi does a variety of training sets, such as Pyramid Sets – where the first set is lighter weight, second set is medium weight, third set is heaviest weight etc. and Giant Sets – where different exercises are done back to back.  Therefore, you definitely need a good variety of weights for this program.  Yes, I know it’s an initial investment, but when you think about all the gym membership dollars you would spend on per month, I guarantee that this won’t even come close.  While I personally have separate dumbbells ranging from 3 lb to 35 lb, it’s a lot more space saving, and economical, to get dumbbells like these, which is a favorite among home fitness users. They range from 3 – 24 lbs, in easy to adjust 3 lb. increments. I don’t love the design, since it’s can be tricky to use for some exercises but still doable.  If you are more advanced or the square shape bothers you, then these would be a better option, and they range from 5 – 50 lbs.

Other items to purchase for the best results with this program:

  • Easy Bar with Weight Plates  is used often in the program, but don’t worry if you don’t have the space for it or can’t afford it as there is a modifier who does all the exercises with dumbbells.
  • Weight Bench, an excellent addition to your home gym in general.  You can use a Stability Ball instead, along with the modifier in the program, if you don’t have or don’t want a weight bench.  I have done the program using both, and while I prefer the weight bench, it is definitely doable without it.
  • Pullup Bar with the Pullup Assist is a great way to get started doing pullups; alternatively you can use these well-made B-lines Resistance Bands which comes with a door attachment – just make sure you have a sturdy door frame to use it on!

Beachbody recommends that you take their Performance Line of supplements for Body Beast but I did not do so.  They are a good quality line of products but being sensitive to some of the ingredients, and as a Holistic Nutritionist with access to more affordable supplements, I chose to get my own comparable items.   I did, however, have Beachbody’s Chocolate Vegan Shakeology*every day – my go-to treat with amazing health benefits!

The main difficulty I found with this program, but at the same time a huge pro, is the amount of food you get to eat.  Your body needs this number of calories in order to get strong, lean muscles if you are a woman, or much larger muscles if you are a man.  Since the original calculations were designed for men to get bigger, Sagi came out with an easier, updated version for you ladies out there (also useful for anyone who has a hard time figuring out the original calculation) to make sure you get the exact number of calories you need, with 2 options, based on whether you’d like to get more muscular or get leaner.

Calculate your calorie intake by downloading this Book-of-Beast-Calculator

Once you have this number, simply go to the guide that comes with your program to see how it’s broken down into portions.  It took me some time to get this right, since I had been using Autumn Calebrese’s Portion Control Containers for a while as recommended by some of the other Beachbody Programs and this system is very different.  Just be patient with yourself and you’ll get it in no time.

I found the easiest way to track my food intake was to put my allotted servings on a sheet of paper, photocopy it weekly, and cross each item off as I went along (details are in the booklet as to specifically what amount and type of food equals a serving size).  For the first 2 months, at the 2000 calorie level, mine looked like this, just to give you an idea:

PROTEIN    PROT    PROT    PROT    PROT    PROT    PROT    PROT    PROT

FRUIT/CARB LIQ       FRUIT/CL      FRUIT/CL      FRUIT/CL     FRUIT/CL

LEG/PR LIQ     LEG/PR LIQ

CARB      CARB        CARB      CARB       CARB

VEG/BAL LIQ    VEG/BAL LIQ     VEG/BAL LIQ       VEG/BAL LIQ

FAT        FAT       FAT      FAT

AFTER WORKOUT SHAKE (since I did not use Beachbody’s Base Shake or Fuel Shot, I made my own based on the nutrition content of those products): 330 cal, 23 gr carbs, 58 gr protein

I hope this encourages some of the ladies out there to try this program. I am very happy with the results as I got stronger doing this program and see a lot more overall muscle definition.  Let me know if you have any questions about this program and I would be happy to assist you.  Order the Body Beast program HERE, or the Body Beast Challenge Pack, which comes with a 1 month supply of Shakeology* at a significant savings.  By ordering through this website, you also get ME as your FREE coach to answer any questions you have while doing the program and to help you succeed.  As an added bonus, you get Lucky 7, another Body Beast full-body workout DVD, FREE! happy

*For my orthodox Jewish followers, please note: Shakeology has 2 vegan options – the others are made with whey protein– but it is NOT certified Kosher.  Please consult with your local Rabbi if you have any questions regarding consuming this product for health purposes.  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

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