Immunity Boosting Recipes for Winter

Hello All!

I hope that you are all having a great week! I wanted to share a few new recipes that are great for boosting the immune system. It is that time of year when we need to do all that we can to give our immune systems a little help. 🙂 These are all paleo recipes. I don’t follow a paleo diet (I find that too many rules make me a little crazy), but all of these ingredients sounded delicious and super cozy for cold weather. Enjoy!

First of all, what vitamins and minerals are helpful for immune system support?

Vitamin C: Yellow bell peppers, broccoli, kale, and oranges are all high in vitamin C.
Zinc: Oysters, beef, lamb, pork, and pumpkin seeds are great sources of Zinc.
Vitamin D: Cod liver oil, Fatty fish (trout, salmon, mackerel), mushrooms, pork, eggs
Vitamin A: turkey and beef liver, cod liver oil, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots
Probiotics: I like to eat kimchi or different varieties of sauerkraut for probiotics. You can rotate different kinds for different strains of probiotics for a happy, healthy gut. 🙂
Garlic has also been found to have immune-boosting effects

Here are a few delicious recipes incorporating these ingredients:

I found this recipe on one of our favorite Paleo blogs, paleomg.com. This is a Denver-based blog that is packed full of delicious paleo recipes.

Beef Bulgogi “Rice” Bowls

Prep time: 8 hours (marinating beef)
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 8 hours 30 mins

Serves: 3-4
Ingredients
For the bulgogi

  • ÂĽ cup coconut aminos
  • 3 tablespoons freshly minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • ½ pear, grated
  • 1 tablespoon coconut vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • pinch of salt
  • 1½ pounds flank or hanger steak, thinly sliced against the grain

For the spicy pickled cucumbers

  • 1 cucumber, sliced very thin with mandolin
  • 2 tablespoons coconut vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chili sauce or sriracha
  • pinch of salt

For the rice bowls

  • 1 batch of cauliflower rice
  • 3-4 eggs
  • black sesame seeds, to garnish
  • green onions, sliced, to garnish
  • sriracha mayo: ½ cup paleo mayo + 2 tablespoons chili sauce or sriracha

Instructions

  1. Mix together all ingredients for the bulgogi and place marinade in a shallow dish. Add the thinly sliced beef, cover and place in the fridge overnight or at least for 4 hours.
  2. Remove beef from fridge 30 minutes before cooking. While the beef comes up in temperature, place cucumber along with the rest of the pickle liquid in a jar, shake, then place in the fridge for about 1 hour.
  3. Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of ghee or coconut oil then remove then beef from the marinade and cook beef in a single layer, sprinkle with salt and once browned and slightly crispy, cook on other side. About 2 minutes per side. Continue until all beef is cooked.
  4. While beef is cooking, make cauliflower rice.
  5. Lastly, place a small skillet over low heat, add 1 tablespoon of ghee or coconut oil, and crack each egg into the pan. Cook low and slow until white are cooked through but yolks are still runny.
  6. Make each bowl: cauliflower rice, beef bulgogi, egg, pickled cucumbers, sriracha mayo, green onions and sesame seeds.

Short on time? Try this Pan-Fried Salmon with Leek and Mushrooms recipe that I found on blog.paleohacks.com.

Pan-Fried Salmon with Leek & Mushroom

Prep Time:3 minutes
Cook Time:5 minutes
Yield:2

Ingredients:

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pine-nuts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small leek, finely sliced
  • 10 button mushrooms, sliced
  • ground black pepper

Directions:

  • Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat and add the salmon fillets. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until browned, then turn and cook for a further 1-2 minutes or until cooked to your liking.
  • To make the leek and mushrooms, heat the olive oil in a separate frying pan on low-medium heat. Add the leek and fry until they begin to soften, then add the mushrooms and cook, stirring for 3-4 minutes or until the mushrooms have warmed through. Season with pepper.
  • Place the leek and mushrooms on a plate and top with a salmon fillet, sprinkle with pine-nuts to serve.

I found this delicious recipe at www.thepaleosecret.com. Delicious!

Acorn Squash with Ground Lamb and Kale

Ingredients

  • 2 acorn squash halved and seeds removed (cut ends off both sides so they sit on a flat surface)
  • 1 to 1 ½ lbs of ground lamb
  • 2 bunches of kale (washed, de-stemmed and chopped)
  • 2 large onions (chopped)
  • salt and pepper
  • cumin
  • coriander
  • 4 Tbsp coconut or palm oil for cooking

Preheat oven to 400 deg. Place acorn squash halves upside down in a baking dish and fill dish with a little bit of filtered water. Bake for 40 minutes or until soft and fork goes through easily.

While squash is baking, heat oil in a large skillet and sauté onions. Add kale and cover until it cooks down. Stir frequently. Heat oil in a second skillet and brown the ground lamb. Add salt, pepper, cumin and coriander to lamb while cooking. When kale is cooked down, add ground lamb to mixture with a slotted spoon. Stir and spoon into acorn squash bowls (once the squash halves are cooked). Drizzle with olive oil and serve. If you want extra meat, add a helping of meat mixture to the side of the bowl.

Recipe by Brenda Walding, DPT, FDN

I’m sure that bone broth is a familiar recipe to all, but here is a nice recipe that I found at wellnessmama.com.

Bone Broth

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 8 hours
Total time: 8 hours 10 mins

Author: Wellness Mama
Serves: 16+
Ingredients

  • 2 pounds (or more) of bones from a healthy source
  • 2 chicken feet for extra gelatin (optional)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Optional: 1 bunch of parsley, 1 tablespoon or more of sea salt, 1 teaspoon peppercorns, additional herbs or spices to taste. I also add 2 cloves of garlic for the last 30 minutes of cooking.
  • You’ll also need a large stock pot to cook the broth in and a strainer to remove the pieces when it is done.

Instructions

  1. If you are using raw bones, especially beef bones, it improves flavor to roast them in the oven first. I place them in a roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes at 350.
  2. Then, place the bones in a large stock pot (I use a 5 gallon pot). Pour (filtered) water over the bones and add the vinegar. Let sit for 20-30 minutes in the cool water. The acid helps make the nutrients in the bones more available.
  3. Rough chop and add the vegetables (except the parsley and garlic, if using) to the pot. Add any salt, pepper, spices, or herbs, if using.
  4. Now, bring the broth to a boil. Once it has reached a vigorous boil, reduce to a simmer and simmer until done.
  5. During the first few hours of simmering, you’ll need to remove the impurities that float to the surface. A frothy/foamy layer will form and it can be easily scooped off with a big spoon. Throw this part away. I typically check it every 20 minutes for the first 2 hours to remove this. Grass-fed and healthy animals will produce much less of this than conventional animals.
  6. During the last 30 minutes, add the garlic and parsley, if using.
  7. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Strain using a fine metal strainer to remove all the bits of bone and vegetable. When cool enough, store in a gallon size glass jar in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for later use.

*Fun tip: Use a pressure cooker to make your bone broth! This is a great way to extract the nutrients and minerals including calcium, phosphorous, sodium, magnesium, and other trace minerals. Also if you include the ligaments and cartilage attached to the bones, you can extract  glucosamine and chondroitin which are great for joint support. I know that’s a little gross to think about, but I am all for getting your nutrients from natural food sources if possible.

Also, check out my blog post “Love Letter to a Green Smoothie” for a great immunity boosting breakfast

I hope that you enjoy these immune boosting recipes! Please take into account any specific dietary restrictions that you may have and skip the ingredients that are inflammatory to your system. Enjoy!

xo Lara

Breaking Down The Classics: Knee Folds

Hello All!

I wanted to break down a classic Pilates exercise, knee folds! This is a great exercise to help you establish great form and a super-strong transversus abdominis (the deepest layer of your core that wraps around your torso attaching to your spine). Enjoy!!

Start lying on your back with your legs in a table-top position. Bring your hands to your pelvis and check that your pelvis is square ie: Your hip points and pubic bone are in an even plane. Imagine that you could balance a bowl of water on your pelvis and it wouldn’t spill towards your belly button, or down towards your toes. If your tailbone is tucked under, or your back is flattened into the mat, you are in a posterior tuck. Be cautious of this position if you have a disk herniation–particularly in your lumbar spine. You want to maintain a tunnel under the small of your back. Engage the muscles of your pelvic floor, and draw your navel to your spine to engage your core and maintain stability. Some commonly used images to help with this are “tightening up your corset” or “Zipping up a pair of jeans that are a size too small.” Then you’re ready to start the exercise!

Exhale to prepare. On your inhalation, dip your right toes down towards the ground as though you were dipping your toes in a pool of water. On your exhale, draw the belly button back to your spine, lift through your pelvic floor and draw the leg back into table top. Repeat to the left. 10 reps each side.

Once you are comfortable with single-leg toe dips, you can continue on with double-leg toe dips. The main concern with this version is also pelvic stability. As you increase the lever-load away from the torso, the core (pelvic floor, abdominal, and back muscles) will need to find a deeper engagement to stabilize the pelvis and spine. Also, you should not feel this in your hip flexors. If you do feel your hip flexors kicking, think of a deeper lift through your pelvic floor, and maybe drop your heels down towards your gluts to reduce the lever load of your legs.

Exhale to prepare. On your inhalation, dip both toes down towards the mat again as if you were dipping your toes into a pool of water. Be cautious that you do not arch your back as you lower the legs towards the mat. As you exhale, draw the navel deeper towards the spine and lift through the pelvic floor to lift the legs back up to table top. Repeat the double-leg version up to 10 times as well.

Give this exercise a go at home! Let me know what you think, and if there are any other exercises that you would like to have broken down for proper form. Until next time!

xo Lara

Effects of Chronic Stress on the Body

Hello All!

This week I wanted to discuss chronic stress, and the effect it can have on our bodies. We live in a fast-paced society and our bodies are constantly exposed to outside stressors. How do we learn to control how we process those stressors and reduce the health effects that long-term stress can cause.

First, what happens on a physiological level when we are in a state of chronic stress?
Humans are meant to be great at handling short-term stress, but our systems are not built to handle the chronic stress that we have grown accustomed to in our society. When we are in a state of long-term stress, our autonomic nervous system will go into overdrive. We are meant to use our “fight or flight” response when dealing with an immediate danger that we need to get away from. Constantly living in that “amped” state, as though there is an ever-present danger, can wreak havoc on the body.
The first physiological response is received through our senses and processed in the amygdala. If the amygdala determines a threat, a distress signal is sent to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus signals the adrenal glands to pump out epinephrine. This release of epinephrine causes blood pressure and pulse rate to increase. Epinephrine also triggers the release of glucose and fats that are stored in temporary sites in the body.  In an acute stress situation, the parasympathetic nervous system would then kick in, taking the body into rest and digest mode. During chronic stress, the HPA Axis (Hypothalamus Pituitary Adrenal Axis) takes over, allowing the sympathetic nervous system to continue firing. When the brain continues to perceive danger, the hypothalamus will then release Corticotropin Releasing Hormone (CRH) to communicate with the pituitary gland, which releases Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH). ACTH then travels to the adrenal glands and stimulates the release of cortisol. We stay in this pattern until we can relax and allow the parasympathetic nervous system to take over and calm us down.

 

I’m always hearing about the dangers of elevated cortisol levels. Why is this so dangerous?
When released properly in response to acute stress, cortisol is responsible for increasing glucose levels in the blood with the purpose of having energy readily available to fight or flee. This is a healthy physiological response. Problems start to arise however, when we have elevated cortisol levels for too long. A few examples of this are:

  • Impaired cognitive performance
  • Decreased bone density
  • Lowered immunity levels
  • Suppressed thyroid function
  • Blood sugar imbalances
www.sciencenews.org

So, how do I know if I am living in a state of chronic stress?
Here are just a few symptoms that you may have experienced:

  • Chronic allergies
  • Difficulty fighting off infection
  • Trouble waking up in the morning, even after a full night’s sleep
  • Anxiety
  • Craving sugar and salty foods
  • Depression
  • Low sex drive
  • Social isolation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Panic Attacks

How can I reverse chronic stress and reduce cortisol levels?

  • Exercise! When cortisol levels are consistently elevated due to chronic stress, providing an outlet for our “fight or flight” response can be very helpful in reducing the circulating cortisol levels in the bloodstream. Moving for 20-30 minutes each day has been shown to significantly reduce excess cortisol and other stress responses.
  • Eating a diet that doesn’t spike your blood sugar can be very helpful in controlling the release of cortisol. Eat lots of veggies and meats, and skip the caffeine and alcohol–ie The Dr. P diet. 🙂
  • Be social! Spending time with good friends and family that make you feel safe and understood can be calming to the nervous system.
  • Adapt to the stressors that are affecting you. This one is a little tough, but thinking of a bigger picture and realizing the things that you are fortunate for in your own life can be very helpful in finding perspective, and therefore helpful in handling stress more effectively.
  • Meditation. This may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Start with sitting quietly and thinking about your breath. When in doubt, say to yourself “this breath in” with each inhalation, and “this breath out” for each exhale. Set a timer on your phone for 5 minutes. When the alarm goes off, you’re done! Of course you can practice for longer periods of time, and add mantras when you are comfortable, but the last thing that you want to do is create stressful thoughts around your de-stressing exercise. 🙂
  • Laugh! Adding a little levity each day has also been proven to significantly reduce chronic stress.

Ultimately, we can’t eliminate stress from our lives, but we can make conscious efforts to handle the inevitable stress with grace and ease. I wish you a light, and happy week!

Until next time!

xo Lara

Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Hello Beautiful Friends!

This week, I wanted to jam about inflammation for a moment. I feel that there is a bunch of information out there and I wanted to clear up a couple of things, and add my two cents. 🙂

Inflammation is the body’s totally healthy response to injury and infection. It is a way of defending ourselves by sending immune cells and key nutrients to the areas that need them most.

 
Acute Inflammation:
Acute Inflammation is a necessary component of our immune function and is also part of a built-in protection and healing process for most tissues. It has a relatively short duration and it is a part of the 
body’s defensive response to bacterial and viral infections. Basically, when we have an acute injury, our white blood cells rush to the scene causing a short-term inflammatory response to fight back against either a foreign invader (infection), or to heal a wound (broken bone or torn ligament.
Chronic Inflammation:
When our biochemistry gets out of balance, immune
 processes aren’t reined in, inflammation becomes continuous and long-
lasting. It known as “silent inflammation”
 because it does not have the same obvious characteristics as acute inflammation.
Chronic inflammation leads to the most deleterious and damaging effects on the body.

Chronic Inflammation

Causes of Chronic Inflammation:

  • Inflammatory diet
  • Obesity 
  • High stress
  • Environmental toxicity 
  • Smoking
  • Lack of exercise
  • Lack of sleep

 

Inflammatory Foods:
All artificial, processed, high sugar, and fried foods may cause inflammation in the body. Diary, gluten soy, and corn can contribute to inflammation. It is important to note that we all process foods differently. There may be some foods that you can tolerate that others aren’t able to and vice-versa. A couple of great examples of this are dairy and gluten. Some bodies are intolerant while others are able to handle cheese and bread without an issue. Regardless of how you process these foods, I do still recommend that you limit your exposure.

Below is a list of some foods that can be inflammatory triggers:
Bagels, breads, baked goods, candy, cake, cookies, sugary cereals, cornstarch, corn bread, corn muffins, high fructose corn syrup, crackers, croissants, doughnuts, egg rolls, fast food, french fries, fruit juice with added sugar, fried foods, flour, high sugar processed granola, cheese, milk, honey, hot dogs, ice cream, frozen yogurt, margarine, molasses, muffins, noodles, pancakes, pastry, pie, pita bread, pizza, pasta, popcorn, white potatoes, potato chips, pretzels, corn chips, rice and corn cakes, soda, sugar, flour tortillas, waffles.
Anti-Inflammatory Foods:

  • Tea
  • Herbs and spices- Turmeric, curry powder ginger, garlic, cilantro, basil, cinnamon, rosemary and thyme are some of my favorites
  • Cooked Mushrooms
  • Fish and Seafood (Low Mercury) –  Wild Alaskan salmon (especially sockeye), herring, sardines, and black cod (sablefish).
  • Grass-Fed Beef
  • Healthy Fats
 – Avocados, Flaxseed Oil, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Nuts, and Seeds
  • Vegetables
- dark leafy greens, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, beets, onions, peas, squashes, and sea vegetables are a few examples. Try to include a variety of colors each day!
  • Fruits
- Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, oranges, pink grapefruit, red grapes, plums, pomegranates, pineapple, blackberries, cherries, apples, and pears, bananas
    **Note** As a general rule, organic is best! If you are budgeting, veggies and fruits with thinner skins are more important when it comes to purchasing organic. For example, I would focus on organic apples before organic bananas and oranges. 🙂

Anti Inflammatory Lifestyle Tips:

  • Sleep at least 8 hours a night. 
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes 5 times a week.
  • Limit or avoid sugar, caffeine and alcohol.
  • Take Epsom salt baths
  • Receive massage whenever possible

Happy anti-inflammatory eating! Until next time…
Lara

Health Benefits of Saunas

Hello Gorgeous!

This week, I wanted to chat about the health benefits of saunas. Saunas are a part of many different cultures and have been around for thousands of years. Japanese, Finnish, Russian, Roman, American Indian, and Turkish cultures all have their own version of utilizing exposure to ambient heat and inducing sweat for health benefits. Sweating is an excellent way to detox and heal the body through its own natural abilities. On top of all that, they feel fantastic!

Deep sweating is an excellent tool to increase the bodies natural ability to detox. The bodies largest organ is our skin. Sweating allows us to push out toxins through the pores in our skin. A sauna session can allow you to clean your skin more thoroughly than washing the skin as we push the toxins, pollutants, and bacteria out. How cool is that!? In addition, high temperatures kill many strains of bacteria which can help to clear infected, or acne prone skin.

Sauna use can stimulate your heart rate. Spending time in a sauna can increase our heart rate, mimicking the effect of moderate exercise. Some studies have shown that regular exposure to high heat has even increased cardiovascular endurance. The increased heart rate also helps to oxygenate the blood, enhances circulation to the organs, muscle, and fat tissue which promotes healing  **Note–spending time in a sauna will not replace the bodies need for regular exercise. 🙂

Regular sauna use has been linked to a reduction in the risk of developing heart disease. What is this attributed to? In addition to the increased blood flow experienced from an increased heart rate, taking time to relax and unplug can be hugely beneficial in reducing risk of heart disease. This simple act of taking time to relax lowers stress and anxiety, and decreases blood pressure.

Some studies have found that taking a sauna at the beginning of an illness can help fight off infection. Sitting in a sauna increases the body’s core temperature which is like inducing a fever, which is our bodies first line of defense against illness. It is hard for pathogens to survive in higher temperatures.

Saunas can help to alleviate sore, tired muscles after a workout. If you take a sauna after a workout, your increased heart rate that you experience in the sauna can help to increase blood flow to repair your muscles as well as carry away the built-up lactic acid that is created in your muscles during exercise. 

Remember to stay hydrated before and after taking a sauna, as prolonged sweating can cause dehydration. Also, if you feel lightheaded or dizzy during your time in the sauna, exit immediately and re-hydrate while sitting in a cool space. Also, please note that saunas are often contraindicated during pregnancy.

I hope that you are having a happy, healthy week! 🙂 Until next time!

xo Lara