Focusing on Nutrient Density within Your Personalized Approach to Wellness

Eating in a way that supports nutrient density means that you are taking in a wide variety of nutrients with every meal. Our bodies are designed to function on nutrition and require nutrients for each and every cell in our bodies to function optimally. The food you eat literally becomes your cells, tissues and organs. This makes it pretty important to take in a healthy dose of nutrients every meal every single day.

The essential nutrients that our bodies need to function optimally are fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates and fat. I also feel that taste is a nutrient, if your food does not appeal to you it most likely won’t make you feel as good as if you were choosing foods that actually bring you some pleasure and satisfaction along with the nutrients. When you focus on foods that are nutrient dense, meaning they contain several of the nutrients listed, you are nourishing your body as it is meant to be nourished.

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This is where eating a variety of colorful veggies comes in! Vegetables are loaded with nutrients necessary for our bodies to function in optimal condition. There is a ton of research surrounding the benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables daily. The field of nutrition can be challenging to follow in terms of what to eat, what not to eat and even when to eat it. It seems what’s considered the healthiest way to eat one day is proven to cause an early death the next! However, there are no dietary theories out there that say don’t eat your veggies, so this is where you can start with confidence. With time and attention on your body, you can create a personalized approach to nutrition focusing on nutrient density and enjoyment.

Creating a personalized approach to nutrition is the healthiest and the most sustainable way to create a nutritional plan. You are the expert on your body and only you can determine how different foods make you feel. One thing we all can do is spend some time evaluating the foods we choose to eat. With each choice you make, you can ask the food “what do you have to offer me?” If it can tick off several of the nutritional boxes and it makes your body feel good, then it’s most likely a good choice. For example, if you are about to eat an apple, asking it this question provides the answer of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fiber. That’s a pretty good nutritional profile! Then ask, “does this taste good to me and does it make my body feel good after I’ve eaten it?” If the answer is yes, most likely that’s a great choice. If you ask a donut what it has to offer, it doesn’t have quite the same response as an apple! That does not necessarily mean that you don’t eat the donut, but you might ask yourself why you are eating the donut. If you are an emotional eater, you just want to be certain the choice is not emotionally based, as the donut will not satisfy your needs and you will be searching for the next way to squash your feelings with food over and over again.

Food is powerful. It provides our lives with pleasure and fuel. When we are eating in the right balance for our individual bodies, it has the power to heal and to create a life of vitality. Every time you ask your food what it has to offer you and the majority of the time it can answer with a few nutrients, you are on your way to creating a healthy body and healthy mind. This is not about perfection, it is about empowering yourself to make the choices that align with your personal health and wellness goals. This is about creating the healthy mind and body that you desire.

3 Nutritional Ways to Aid Your Body's Natural Detox Process

 
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Earlier this week I posted about how this time of year is synonymous with a desire to create change, cleanse, detox and just overall feel more balanced and healthy. In case you missed it, you can catch it here! I wanted to follow up with a post about how you can address the concept of cleansing and detoxing from a nutritional perspective as well!

When your body is well nourished you create a solid foundation to find and create balance in body, mind and spirit. When you feel healthy and vital physically, you have an opportunity to focus your energy in many other fulfilling areas of your life. However, when you are feeling unwell and as is if your body is “toxic”, it can be challenging to live in balance or focus on wellness beyond the physical.

When your body is in a state of wellness and balance, there is no need for any major or extreme measures of cleansing or detoxing. As I previously stated (and will probably mention countless times in the future), your body is amazing. Your body is designed to find and remain in balance. When you create an environment of wellness, your body will work hard to heal itself!

If you started some of the cleansing practices I discussed in the previous post, I hope you are finding them to be useful. Below are three nutrition-based elements to incorporate into your wellness routine. These nutritional additions will assist your body in the process of maintaining balance by keeping its natural detox channels working efficiently and effectively. Here are three super simple and quite delicious additions you can add today!

1.    Chia Seeds

Many parts of our body are lined with a mucous membrane that secrete mucus, which is a thick protective fluid (I know—kinda gross to think about). The mucus helps to rid your body of toxins, microbes and pathogens. I remember learning in my anatomy training to become a yoga teacher that we swallow some disgusting amount of mucus daily. This mucosal lining helps assist these foreign invaders to the exit routes of elimination! The exits again are elimination through your bowels, urinary tract, your breath on the exhale and through your skin.

Here is where chia seeds come in! Many of us may have a slightly challenged digestive tract, so if you are like me, I’m sure yours can use all the help it can get! Chia seeds, when soaked in liquid, become viscous or gelatinous. The membrane that surrounds the chia seed—once eaten and as it swells—helps assist your body in the process of absorbing microbes, pathogens and toxins from the digestive tract and move them into the proper elimination channels: the bowels. Chia seeds also contain antioxidants, fiber, omega 3’s and protein. Try adding chia seeds to salads and smoothies and make chia pudding (there is a recipe on my resources page) as a super tasty and super nutritious treat! 

2.    Fresh Herbs: Spotlight on Cilantro and Parsley

While all fresh herbs offer a ton of nutritional benefits, cilantro and parsley offer some special super powers! Not only are these herbs rich in phytonutrients, antioxidants and delicious flavor (although there is a small slice of the population to whom cilantro tastes like soap—so sorry—it may not be so delicious to everyone!) they are also shown to bind to toxic metals, loosen them from your tissues and assist with eliminating them from your body! That’s pretty amazing.

Heavy metal toxicity is becoming more common with the amount of heavy toxic metals we are exposed to through our food containers, binders in vaccinations and otherwise. Heavy metal toxicity has been shown to decrease mental wellness and memory while increasing headaches, anxiety, depression—and it can cause disruption in the elimination systems and immune system. This is not good! Adding in cilantro and parsley regularly will help keep your body healthy in ways you may never have imagined. 

Try adding fresh organic cilantro to stir fry’s, salads, guacamole, dressings and other dishes. Add parsley to salads, sauces, dressings, and marinades to receive all of the powerful benefits.

3.    Turmeric-Ginger-Lemon-Honey-Super-Shot

The health benefits of fresh turmeric and ginger are many—add in some lemon and local raw honey—and you have a power shot to keep your body functioning in top notch form! I prefer to blend all of the ingredients together (recipe below!) and drink it as a shot. You can juice the turmeric, ginger and lemon and add in honey as well. 

Turmeric is known to be a helpful aid to your body’s natural detox processes as it helps your liver to efficiently process metabolic wastes and toxins. Turmeric heals your liver by rejuvenating liver cells and protects your bile ducts. It also soothes the digestive tract with its anti-inflammatory properties, helping to ease digestion. That’s pretty awesome—and this is only how turmeric benefits your body’s natural detox channels, it really does much, much more!

Ginger also has anti-inflammatory properties and is used in typical “cleanses” because it stimulates digestion and circulation. Due to the warming qualities of ginger it induces sweating—another of the body’s natural channels for detoxing—elimination of toxins through your skin! The increased digestive power helps to cleanse any built-up waste and toxins in your digestive tract and colon. Healthy elimination equals a healthy body, and a healthy body helps to create the opportunity for a healthy mind, spirit and life!

Lemon is another powerful natural cleanser. It adds so much more than delicious flavor to this cleansing super-shot! Lemon helps to flush toxins and potentially harmful bacteria out of your body by giving your liver a boost with its high vitamin C content and increased hydration. Lemon juice also strengthens your digestive fires and encourages the production of bile. That’s some good cleansing that’s safe to do every day. 

Raw, local honey has many health benefits as well. When you focus on its ability to assist with ridding your body of harmful toxins, it is right up there with the other three ingredients in this super-shot. In addition, honey adds sweetness and allows the flavors to all come together. Raw honey offers many healing enzymes and bacteria eliminating properties that aid your body in finding balance and overall wellness. Adding honey to this natural cleansing power shot assists in healing your digestive tract and releasing toxins from your system through elimination.

Recipe:

2 inches fresh turmeric, peeled and chopped

2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

Juice of ½ a lemon

½ teaspoon raw, (local if possible) honey

¼ cup filtered water

Blend all ingredients in a blender and enjoy!

While there are certainly MANY other beneficial nutrient dense foods that aid in your body’s natural cleansing and detoxing processes, these three options are a simple and great place to begin. If you begin to incorporate any of these into your daily wellness routine, I’d love to hear how they work for you!

Holiday Pumpkin-Spice-Chocolate Bread

 
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I hope you are having a wonderful, safe, healthy and joyous holiday season!

If you are looking for a last-minute healthy offering to give as a gift or take with you to a holiday gathering, look no further! This recipe tends to be a crowd-pleaser so be prepared for everyone to ask you for the recipe. They will NOT believe that this tasty dessert is FAR healthier than your usual holiday bread!

I love working with recipes to upgrade them to be as healthy and nourishing as possible and yet are still deliciously satisfying. Finding combinations of ingredients to create versions of tasty recipes that offer the best nutrition possible is always a fun challenge. Usually I prefer cooking, but I took a stab at baking with this recipe and I think you might enjoy the results!

This tasty treat recipe has been totally upgraded to offer loads of nutrition and plenty of deliciousness. It also happens to be gluten AND dairy free, so it is both paleo and vegan friendly. This recipe also uses just a low amount of all-natural sweetener and includes a veggie, fruit, nuts and seeds as ingredients—and yet still tastes like super pumpkin-spice-chocolatey heaven!!

If you try this recipe, I’d love to know what you think! I hope you enjoy!

Healthy Holiday Pumpkin-Spice-Chocolate Bread

Ingredients:

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

3 tablespoons cashew (or almond) butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/3 cup + 3 tablespoons boiling water, divided 

1 can 100% pure pumpkin

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon chia seeds + a sprinkle for garnish

1 cup cassava flour

½ cup coconut flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon allspice

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup dairy free dark chocolate chips + 1 tablespoon to sprinkle on top before baking

 Directions:

•  Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly grease an 8-inch bread loaf pan with coconut oil

• Boil water in a tea kettle (no need to measure yet)

•  Put applesauce, cashew butter and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl

• In a separate bowl, sift together cassava and coconut flour, spices, baking soda and salt

•  Measure 1/3 cup boiling water and pour into the bowl with the chocolate mixture, mixing quickly to make a smooth chocolate sauce

• Add pumpkin, coconut sugar, vanilla and mix well

•  Incorporate about half of the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture and gently stir just to begin to mix together

•  Measure 2 tablespoons of boiling water, add in and stir 

•  Add the rest of the flour mixture and another tablespoon of boiling water and stir just until smooth (be sure not to over-mix)

• Fold in 1/2 cup chocolate chips and chia seeds

• Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan. It will be quite thick—smooth the top with a spatula, add 1 tablespoon chocolate chips and a sprinkle of chia seeds

• Bake for 40-45 minutes. Stick a knife into the center of the loaf to check and see if it is ready—there might be some chocolate from a chocolate chip—but the knife should come out nearly dry

•  Let cool for at least 10 minutes

•  Slice and serve while still warm!

Enjoy!!

Thank you for being a part of the Wholistic Food Therapy Community!

Thank you for reading and I hope to continue to offer articles that help support your personal wellness journey. If there are any topics you’d like see me write about here, please hit reply and let me know!

I am putting together a 7-Day Cravings Challenge for the new year, more information on that to come very soon! I hope you’ll join me!!

With Gratitude,

Sarah