Is your Brain Healthy? 🧠

Is your Brain Healthy? 🧠

Hey all – Hope you’re doing well! I’m so happy to be writing to you as a part of an assignment for my Nutrition Education class. This post is focused on brain health, because grad school has made me realize the importance of a high-functioning brain 😉

Did you know that we play a role in our own brain health? It’s true – what we eat and how we live influence our cognitive function. If you’re interested in having a sharp memory and preventing Alzheimer’s and Dementia – read on!

      1. Healthy Fats – Nuts, Fish, Olive Oil, Avocado, Dark Chocolate, etc.

The brain is made up of fat, so it makes sense that healthy fats keep the brain healthy. Omega-3 fats in foods like fish (especially salmon), walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds have been shown to reduce cognitive decline in the elderly, as well as in mouse models of Alzheimer’s. Fats like avocado, nuts, seeds, and olives contain Vitamin E, which also has brain-boosting effects. Healthy fats are, first of all, yummy… think dark chocolate covered walnuts, crispy grilled salmon with olive oil and avocado… second of all, they promote feelings of fullness and healthy hair growth (YES), and if they can help me remember more for my next Macronutrients test – I’m all in!

avo
Avo + High-fiber crackers make a great snack!

      2. Antioxidants – Fruits and Veggies

Are you surprised? Fruits and Veggies are FULL of the good stuff! Polyphenols in bright berries have been shown to increase measures of memory. Antioxidants in brightly colored or dark green veggies protect the brain from oxidative damage, which occurs naturally over time and can accelerate brain (and body) aging. Even white veggies, like potatoes and onions, are really good for us. Potatoes, spinach, kale, and broccoli contain Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), which has been shown to improve memory deficits in animal models of Alzheimer’s and reduce cognitive decay. I could name so many more benefits – if you’re interested in the full chart, check it out here!

beet it
Roasted beets (in olive oil and sea salt) + Chicken + Quinoa

      3. Other – Green Tea, Red Wine, etc.

Both green tea and red wine contain high amounts of flavonoids, which show cognitive benefits both alone and in combination with exercise. Green tea fights inflammation, which, like oxidation, causes damage to the brain (and body) over time. Red wine contains resveratrol, a compound studied for its effects on Alzheimer’s prevention. Adults can enjoy brain health benefits from moderate red wine consumption (1 glass for women, 1-2 glasses for men) on occasion. And we can all benefit from swapping out a few of our coffees for green tea, which provides a longer-lasting caffeine boost with less crash – so we can keep working longer! If neither of these are for you, spices like curcumin and ginger can yield big benefits – again, check out the chart here!

matcha
Matcha green tea “latte” with almond milk 🙂

And of course, besides diet, our lifestyle (exercise, sleep, social interaction, etc.) has a strong effect on our brain health (and our whole body’s health). Get some of these foods in your diet whenever you can, and also keep in mind that balance in life is so critical!

Wishing you happy thoughts,

Rae

If you liked this post, check out the Doctor Meets Dietitian blog, where I found my resources!

Resources

Gómez-Pinilla F. Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Nature reviews Neuroscience. 2008;9(7):568-578. doi:10.1038/nrn2421.

Schmidt A., Hammann F., Wölnerhanssen B., et al. Green tea extract enhances parieto-frontal connectivity during working memory processing. Psychopharmacology. 2014;231(19):3879-3888. Doi:10.1007/s00213-014-3526-1.

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If you’re not a college athlete anymore, you must have to eat way less…

If you’re not a college athlete anymore, you must have to eat way less…

Yes, and no.

Blog Grads

Comments like these – I didn’t realize it at the time, but they really stuck with me! After graduating, and deciding to let my aches and pains heal with a little time off from running, I started to believe that I was going to need to make serious changes to my diet in order to be healthy and to maintain a weight that felt good (as a non-collegiate athlete). Those thoughts mostly just caused a lot of anxiety, which actually resulted in me feeling less healthy and making less healthy choices. After a few months of wandering, I finally found my way out of the confusion that is our “health-minded” (*cough* diet-minded) culture. Back to normal, thank you God!

Oats with blackberries

The truthful answer to this question is – yes, I am eating less now than I was as an athlete. But it doesn’t feel like some kind of punishment – we still get to attend to hunger and fullness in the same way. When I was averaging over 20,000 steps a day, I was way more hungry. Now, I don’t need multiple saga plates to be full. Today, my eating follows a similar pattern to back then (wow, 8 months ago) – and it feels about the same. I still have to be smart and think about what I eat to get the results I want – loads of energy, a positive mood, and a healthy, happy body – but I did then too. I’ve also found many ways to stay active besides running (though I may try to start again this week!). If you’re making a life transition, I want you to know that it’s not necessary to try to replicate the calorie burn or workload of whatever you used to do just to stay fit. I’m sure you know that, but sometimes there are some subconscious thoughts that hang out in the back of our minds attempting to undermine what you are doing now. I didn’t attempt to maintain my previous weekly mileage on the elliptical or anything like that, but I did have a strange feeling that no workout I did was really good enough. Now that I’ve pinpointed where these thoughts came from, they don’t have any more power. This is so important to remember: You get to hold all of your past accomplishments as treasures – that was you who did that! – and achieve new goals, too. Never be jealous of your former self.

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We all know that energy balance (calories eaten = calories expended) is important if you want to avoid putting an extra weight burden on your body. However, this can be managed by normal people who are simply active for fun and health. Walking for transportation, playing tag in the yard, cleaning the house – all of these expend calories. And when you do structured exercise, you don’t have to push it to the limit every single time. Runners take easy days, too. Approach the body with love and respect, and respect the amount of energy or strength you have on a given day. As far as calorie intake, our body’s hunger and fullness cues are designed to maintain a healthy weight, especially when our diets are full of natural foods and promote satiety – meaning they contain plenty of fiber-rich carbs, healthy fats in modest portions, and an adequate amount of lean protein. There were times when this came naturally – think of when you were a little kid. Children tend to self-regulate their intake depending upon their needs, with some exceptions and until cultural factors begin to interfere. Re-learning to use hunger and fullness as your guide for eating can be one of the most freeing things we ever do! This is generally referred to as developing “mindful” or “intuitive” eating skills, and is correlated with positive mental and physical health outcomes, as well as lower BMI and increased desire to be physically active. (Check out this ancient blog post I did on the topic… I’ve learned a lot more since then!) And, though this is a big contradiction to intuitive eating, I also believe that using a food tracking app like MyFitnessPal can be very helpful for many people who want to take charge of their nutrition (always in combination with listening to the body’s cues). This can help you assure that you are consuming all the nutrients you need, while also helping you to learn about portion sizes and to understand which eating habits are serving you well, and which aren’t. Research has proven these effective for some purposes as well, though you should be consider whether it’s right for you or not based on your personal history (e.g., issues with restrictive eating may mean it could set you back, while a sound mind and a general out-of-touch-ness with your daily eating habits may mean it could help you). It’s not a perfect system, but it can be a good tool to help you meal plan for your week, and a good way to rediscover healthy habits that feel good after the holiday season. Both of these work because they put you in control of your own choices. It’s completely up to you to decide how to best fuel yourself, enjoy food, and respect your body’s needs. There’s no force – and that feels good.

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Speaking of programmed “diets” not actually being necessary (if you’ve turned on your TV, I can think of a couple of commercials that might come to your mind) did you know that when caloric restriction is too severe, many strange psychological and physiological changes can occur? These include lethargy, preoccupation with food, increased food cravings, an increased occurrence of binge eating, loss of lean muscle mass, slowed hair and nail growth, and of course, the slowing of the metabolism to support life at this lower food intake (so you burn less calories a day). All of these have been observed in scientific studies, and occur because the body assumes starvation! My point is – we want to feed ourselves enough, because too little can be counter-productive. So much of the current health culture, believe it or not, focuses on bringing the body into submission – “destroying” it in the gym, eating “squeaky clean…” but if we stop and think about that mindset away from all the adrenaline, we realize that a ridiculously balanced approach is best. We have to come from a place of self-care, or all hope is lost. Self-compassion is crucial to your mental health! If you aren’t showing kindness to yourself… life is going to be harder. However, I really believe in discipline as well – through personal experience (especially in school and in athletics) I’ve learned that without discipline, I feel a bit lost, and pretty unhappy. Discipline in the things that matter to you – for me, everything from prayer, to diet, to school, to making time for family, to lifting weights, cardio fitness, and even stretching – is what keeps you going when motivation wanes. And, it will. However, discipline should always come from a place of love – if you love yourself, you want the best for yourself in the future, and often that requires doing the hard things now. Just smart, good things – not unreasonable things.

chili

The best thing I’ve been doing lately that has helped me to develop more discipline is planning. The main 3 areas I’ve been focusing on are 1) planning a general template of what meals and snacks I’ll eat for the week (and from that it’s so easy to construct a grocery list), 2) scribbling down a tentative workout schedule for the week, and 3) loosely scheduling my day/week to see when I need to get certain things done. I do it all in one notebook, and I can scribble and change things at any time because I don’t care what it looks like. I’m so excited to approach this semester with some semblance of organization!

start small

The mindset change for me in 2018, if I had to sum it up, is taking charge again because I believe in myself. What will really take you places is your “why-power,” rather than “will-power” – having a “why,” or a purpose behind what you are doing. If you’re like me, and you’ve got goals and dreams of helping others in big ways, taking charge of things in your own life (even just in small ways) will prepare you to be strong enough to help them when the time comes. Even now – when you feel good about your choices, you are less defensive in conversation with others, and are able to give more to them. If you are in Christ, He has already paid to break any stronghold you might have or any issue that’s holding you back. I encourage you to ask in prayer for whatever area you need help developing. Man plans his course, but the Lord establishes his steps (Proverbs 16:9). And remember not to worry about what others are doing or how their lives appear. A way that works for them may not be right for you, and a plan God has for you may not be for them. We each have our own struggles and strengths – so the lives of two strong people could appear very different from the outside.

Never let others’ comments sneak in and influence your thoughts without considering whether or not they have merit. Use your brain, and get expert advice if you are concerned about any area of your life. One day, maybe your registered dietitian (*cough* – me) can certifiably help you separate the truth from the lies! Until then, I’ll be continuing to share my experiences figuring it all out.

Psst – Keep your eyes out for a yummy, seasonal recipe from me soon!

Much love for each of you 😍

Rae

much love

What my 1st Semester of Grad School Taught me

What my 1st Semester of Grad School Taught me

One semester down!

Looking back, I can hardly believe how much I’ve learned in 4 months. I wish I could transfer all of my experiences directly to y’all. Here’s my best attempt!

#1 – I learned to embrace difficulty. Would you believe that graduate school is not even a little bit easy? I don’t know why, but I had the impression that once I was studying what I loved, it wouldn’t be hard. It turns out, you have to work the hardest at the things you really want to be good at. Learning things well that you never knew is always going to be challenging. The study of nutrition is much more detailed and nuanced than I ever imagined it could be. There are things I can appreciate about this phase of life though – less physicality required than in my previous college experience 😝, less hours in class, a bigger space (sorry dorm room, you were great), and a new city – Auburn is beautiful and wonderful in different ways than Troy, and closer to home. There’s a give and take, but where I am now makes me grateful for what I had and what I have. There are always so many blessings around if you look for them – even the hard things are a blessing. Challenge makes you strong 💪🏼 To be challenged in every area – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually – at some point in life is honestly the best thing for us.

toomers

#2 – I learned to drop worry and just work. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking about how something’s going to turn out. But when we just focus on being our best selves and doing our best work, that’s our shot at winning right there.  Especially if you throw in prayer. Praying about my worries drastically changes my outlook almost every time, because God is honestly the best listener and he always reminds me that he’s in control. He has planned the future, and always gives us what we need to fulfill his plans. Talking to others about what you’re going through can really help as well (avoid trying to be an island, even if you’re like me and you think you can handle it all). Whether they’re in the middle of it too and can sympathize, or they’re not and can offer valuable perspective – both are helpful! On this same note, I’ve found it especially important to believe in myself and love who I am right now. If you walk through a tough season in your life, you might find that some areas of your life took a backseat. Give yourself (or accept God’s) grace right where you are. If you choose to make changes in any area – whether that means bettering your diet, being a more focused or more organized student, working harder at whatever you do, or changing your workout regime – love you and choose to make those changes so that you (and others, indirectly) can be benefitted. Never work at anything out of the fear that you aren’t enough. Work out of the confidence that you have what it takes to accomplish and succeed, and that your lovely self deserves at least your best attempt. With God as your focus, any areas of your life that improve will give you more strength to better others’ lives.

rolling

#3 –  Finally, something from class. Metabolism is a complex web of reactions, and it sustains our bodies. It is AWE-INSPIRING y’all. Before this semester, I thought metabolism meant “the rate at which you burn up fuel (calories).” Nope, that was totally looking at it from the wrong angle. You could study human metabolism for years and barely make a dent. There is so much chemistry and biology going on in our bodies every second. (I can’t imagine believing this wasn’t intelligently designed. How could all of this just happen?) I’d say think twice before ever saying “He just has a good metabolism,” or “My metabolism is the worst.” Our metabolisms are doing work. And they’re affected by fuel we put in, the state of our emotions, exercise – everything. My teachers mainly focused on the science, but also imparted a few tidbits of wisdom – which made so much sense after learning the science. Here’s what I learned practically this semester. Are you ready? This is gold.

metabolism map
JK. We learned about this, but I’ll tell you what you need to know in simpler terms.

Your body doesn’t respond ideally to starvation or strict deprivation. Don’t starve your body of carbs, don’t starve your body of fat, and of course we need a full spectrum of amino acids (protein). Eating all the foods is good for you. Plant foods and animal foods are both beneficial to our health in different ways. We don’t even know everything about food yet – there are plenty of vitamins and minerals that maintain the function of our bodies, and other substances we’re still figuring out. Did you know we’ve recently identified new amino acids? Unless you have a specific condition or a food allergy or sensitivity, a balanced, varied diet is just right. Eat as many types of foods as you can, and drink your coffee!

Coffee is implicated in the prevention of several diseases y’all! And don’t underestimate the importance of simple hydration. Water is key for keeping things moving.

coffee

Did you know that when we don’t consume sufficient carbohydrates, a fasting state is imitated, in which the body wastes uses some of its own protein to manufacture energy? I find that so interesting. So many people think nutrition is about restriction… taking things away or out of the diet… when it’s actually more about making sure you get what you need in the proper amounts. Not forcing heaps of vegetables at every meal, either, but just maintaining a balanced diet over the long term.

#5 – Other important thoughts:

Put first things first. If reading your bible is important to you, doing it first after you wake up can help you stay on the wagon. If one assignment is the hardest, try as hard as you can not to put it off… just start on it early and first! If exercise is hard to fit in later, do it in the morning. If you’re serious about eating well, start with a breakfast that makes you feel healthy!

Omelet & apple

Let yourself rest. Spend some time doing nothing. Spend some time exploring. Spend some time writing, or reading, if you’re into that. Make time for what’s important to you, and don’t worry about saying no when you need to. Listen to your gut on big decisions, and then pray. And then keep listening. God’s spotting you – he’s always ready to catch you if life knocks you off balance.

walk

And without love, it’s all meaningless. A clanging gong or a resounding cymbal. A pile of words, thought, ideas. A good or successful life is nothing without your heart in it! The richest life comes when you extend love to yourself and others, all the time, “deserving” or not. And remember this holiday season when it gets crazy, busy, or tough – Jesus is the only one who can help us do that.

Much love for you,

Rae ♥️

cozy

My Drink of Choice 🍻

My Drink of Choice 🍻

Isn’t the proverb something like “Wine cheers the hearts of men?” Nothing against a little wine, but I think they meant to say Kombucha. 😄

“Kombucha” is a lightly-carbonated, sometimes sweetened, fermented tea. If you haven’t tried it yet and you get hooked, I’m not responsible. It’s certified non-alcoholic – though, being fermented, it may contain teeny-tiny trace amounts of alcohol, but not enough to require an ID. Andddd it comes sold in pretty little glass bottles, so you still get to feel fancy.


And oh my gosh. Your gut will thank you!

Fermented foods contain probiotics, which are a really popular topic in nutrition right now. In the case of kombucha, a good bacterial culture (called a SCOBY – symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) is placed in the tea and the mixture is allowed to ferment, resulting in a drink full of these little probiotic guys. When consumed, they colonize the gut and protect it from bad bacteria – and they’ve been implicated in everything from immunity, to weight control, to dental health. The gut microbiome is a huge focus of current nutrition research, and it’s really cool. The takeaway so far from the research that’s been done is – we need probiotics. Fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut, yogurt, and kombucha contain those – they’re good for us. And I think kombucha is the yummiest source!

I’ve always been a yogurt fan (especially the non-dairy varieties), but there’s something special about Kombucha that other probiotic foods just don’t offer. When I drink this stuff, I know that I’m going to experience immediate benefits! It’s a sure fix for upset stomachs, nerves… and because it’s lightly carbonated, it even helps to fill you up. This is all just from my experience, but honestly, I think drinking this stuff every once in a while makes me a better quality human being. This has got to be how we were supposed to feel all the time! Modern food processing, poor dietary habits, antibiotics, and stress may have collectively hurt our gut health – but putting back in those good bacteria is a step back in the other direction.

When to drink it:

When you have a late afternoon class or study session, kombucha can help keep you awake. It’s also a great weekend drink replacement. Pictured below is the brand Lenny Boy – looks like fancy beer, tastes awesome – for 15 calories a bottle, locally made in the southeast, with flavors like “rose petal and lemongrass”… can it get better? Just don’t take this one to class.


My favorite Kombucha brands:

  • Lennyboy (Only sold at EarthFare – Come visit me and we’ll go!)
  • GT’s Kombucha – Gingerade. Amazing. The classic Kombucha.
  • Kevita Master Brew
    • Favorite flavors – Pineapple peach, Grapefruit, Ginger, and Lemon Ginger!

Friends and family have also told me they really love the Humm and Big Easy ‘Bucha brands. I think it’s hard to go wrong!

What to look for:

Number one is of course sugar. A small amount of cane sugar is used to feed the SCOBY and ferment the drink (weird, I know), and it gets used up by the end of the fermentation process. But most companies add flavor after this – which could include fruit juice or puree, herbs, or additional sugar or artificial sweeteners and colors. I’d say it’s better to drink one than to not – but I encourage being mindful and I try to choose those low in artificial and real sugars. This will also keep the calories in a good range.


Some of you know that I’m currently giving the Whole30 a shot – That means 30 days of a lot of unprocessed foods, and without…

  • Sugar
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Grains
  • Pseudo-grains like corn, buckwheat, quinoa, etc.
  • Legumes
  • Dairy

And if anyone else is on the Whole30, most of the GT’s Synergy brand (shown above and below) are acceptable during your 30 days! Good to know!


{More on the whys of my Whole30 later. I have typically advocated for an inclusive diet which doesn’t avoid any particular foods – however, the scientific premises behind giving these 6 a rest to see reductions in inflammation, stubborn injuries, cravings, and rollercoaster energy levels looks very promising. The Whole30 checks off as a healthy way of eating, the science makes sense with everything I’m learning in my graduate nutrition courses, and the plan has been approved by several well-known RDs, so I feel confident in giving it a shot. Day 7, I feel pretty great, and I think this could really help me with a multitude of issues including reducing inflammation (and hopefully, ditching my tendonitis and being able to run happily again!) If anyone’s been thinking about giving it a try – now’s the time! Shoot me a text or email, and we can keep each other motivated.}


Back to the ‘bucha – ease into your consumption, as it’s pretty potent stuff. I don’t recommend multiples in a day… they cost too much for that anyway! 1/2 to 1 bottle should make you feel great. More than 2 bottles would probably give you a tummyache.

Price and tips:

These generally run $2-4 a bottle, which could really add up. Kroger sometimes has coupons for the Kevin’s Master Brew brand, and Sam’s Club sells a couple of GT’s Kombucha flavors in bulk. However, my best tip is to just budget it in and buy less! I keep a couple in the fridge for when I really want one, but right now it’s probably once a week. Maybe twice if it’s rough. Stress can impact gut health, so we’ve gotta fight that any way we can! A little alcohol might ease stress, but Kombucha can really keep you well through it! 😷

XOXO & wishing you all the best,

Rae

🎉 Joie de Vivre – An Exuberant Enjoyment of Life ❤️

🎉 Joie de Vivre – An Exuberant Enjoyment of Life ❤️

Have you noticed that “the truths” of nutrition and health seem to change every day? Coffee’s good for you again. Eggs are in. No, wait, they’re out. Just kidding, we don’t know. And has anyone figured out coconut oil? It’s either magical, or it’s poison.

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Consider trends in lifestyle diets and weight-loss diets as well. High-protein, low-carb diets were quite popular in recent years (Atkins, South Beach, Zone, etc.); then high-fat, moderate protein, and even-lower-carb took the stage (Keto), and then high-carb (some forms of Vegan, Vegetarian) came into the spotlight again. People seem to have attained their best bodies or best lives on all of these types of diets, never to look back. None of these ways of eating are “bad” (though dietitians do generally advise a diet high in veggies and fruits, that provides a good balance of all 3 macronutrients, and you should definitely supplement correctly if you cut out any food groups) – but none of these are the only healthy way to eat, either. Scientists’ “unbiased research” and personal success stories surrounding certain restrictive diets can be so convincing – and so often it makes folks just wanna jump on the bandwagon real quick. I’ve been there.

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However… most dietitians will agree that one-size-fits-all diets shouldn’t be a thing, because we all legitimately have different needs. Nutritional genomics is really up-and-coming, and we’re just now discovering the magnitude of the impact that genetics has on the dietary patterns each body will thrive off of. Every single body functions a little bit differently – we may react differently to the same foods, and digest food at different speeds. We also have different goals, likes and dislikes, schedules, budgets, and lives. We can each find our healthy diet that works for us. It may even evolve and change over time, as our bodies and our lives do. So, it’s hard to pin ourselves to a diet named by one or two words, because there’s so much more to it than that.

We as humans love to have something to belong to and to follow – we were created that way. We also love to feel like we’re doing life right. Eating food that makes us feel good and good about ourselves can be a real positive – but we should certainly never feel that diet is a moral issue or something to take sides on, because according to my God, it’s not. As for Christians, diet should also never become a cause we champion more than Christ’s.

It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you, but what comes out – from your heart. (Mark 7:15)

Don’t worry about what you eat, drink, or wear, says the Lord, for he is your good Father who knows everything you need. (Matthew 6:31)

“I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 8:15)

If you’ve ever struggled with feelings of inadequacy affected by what you eat or how you look, you might have trouble believing that these statements are as true for you as they are for others. I’m telling you firsthand that they’re absolutely as true, real, and powerful as every other word of the Lord. He cares less about what you eat, and more about how you act. It matters more how much Jesus you take in daily – how much we worship, look for Him in our daily lives and the Bible, and give our hearts to Him in prayer – than how many grams and what type of protein we ingest. Though nutrition has the power to affect us, spiritual things are infinitely more important.

meme for blog

Over the past few weeks, I’ve discovered this timeless foundation of dietary advice that has been there for us in God’s word for centuries. Though the world’s thoughts may waver, and though the science of nutrition is always evolving, some things can remain the same. If we can nail these down, we’ll have a filter to use on any new ideas that come at us.

If you’re not into what you’ve read so far, you’re still gonna want to hang with me. I’m serious. These truths are reassuring and helpful, no matter what you believe. They have the power to change the way you view nourishment. I’ve experienced the benefits of this advice to such an extent that I’m sure I’ll never again rely on a restrictive dietary pattern.

meme 2 blog

  • 1 Corinthians 10:31 – Whatever you eat, drink, or do – do it all to the Glory of God. Food can easily become an attention-thief if we give it too much importance. My best tips are to enjoy food, enjoy how it enhances fellowship with others, and do your best to eat amounts that fuel you well without holding you back. Let go a bit on worrying about types of foods, and eat with a thankful and positive spirit. Food or the lack of food shouldn’t be an excuse to be grumpy or upset – not at yourself, not at the waitress, not at life.
  • Romans 14:15 – Be considerate of others by not making diet a big issue. In the early church, they worried about whether or not to take food from others because they might not know if it had been offered to idol gods. This is rarely our problem today, however, the guidance Paul gives to those struggling with that issue is still helpful for us. Don’t let something as trivial as food choices negatively affect your relationships, or your witness. Whether this means relaxing your diet a bit on certain occasions and enjoying whatever’s offered at a restaurant or somebody’s home, or, on the flipside, not indulging in a drink if dining with someone who alcohol presents a struggle for, or simply skipping the complaints about feeling fat or full – our friends/family deserve more concern than our food. You never know what others are dealing with – disordered eating, insecurity, depression, addiction – or how your hesitancy toward or overvaluing of food might affect them. By all means, treat yourself well – but consider others, too. Nothing we do is done in a vacuum.
  • Luke 12:16-21 – Don’t spend your life storing up grain (in our terms, this might relate to building up the perfect diet or body). Don’t get me wrong, preparation is good. Bettering ourselves is good. We just need to keep in mind that we never know when our last day will come. We don’t wanna have wasted our life on storing up things that’ll be gone! Focus more on the eternal. 💪🏼
  • Genesis 3:6 – Don’t let the temptation of food or drink keep you from something better. Remember that apple? She couldn’t look past it. When we become fixated on one thing, and that thing’s not God, it can really hurt us.
  • Luke 22:19 – When we eat, remember Him. Jesus refers to bread and wine here, but honestly every meal is an opportunity to remember what he did for us and who he is in our lives. So, let’s eat with gratitude! Remember that God sanctifies all foods that are received with thanksgiving.
  • Philippians 4:12 – We can find contentment in Christ whether full or hungry. 🙌🏼
  • Matthew 4:4 – Man doesn’t live on bread alone, but on every word that God speaks. God nurtures our souls through his word, which contains an invisible sort of provision for us. When Jesus said that we don’t live on bread alone, he was 40 days fasted. Sort of makes it a little more believable, right?
  • In regard to food restrictions on moral terms – Honey, meat, cheese, fish, bread, and wine (in moderation) were all consumed and positively noted in the bible, in too many verses for me list – try Proverbs 24:13, 1 Kings, 17:6, and John 21:13 to start. If Jesus wasn’t too good for ’em… neither am I.

pizza

And my personal favorite verses on this subject:

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. Ps. 18:16

He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me. Ps. 18:19

If you have ever worried yourself to death about what you ate – because you couldn’t control it and felt guilty, or because you became obsessed about it and controlled it too much, God can set you free from that. It’s not for us to stress over. When we stress over it, our world gets small – and He wants it to be big! I can personally say that God has drawn me out of deep waters of anxiety and worry concerning many things, including what I eat. He continually brings me out into a spacious place where he reorders priorities in my mind – giving me freedom and the ability to make better choices for myself. He also reaches down from on high on the regular and takes hold of me when I need it. And it just so happens that I need it a lot, so I get a lot of love and “hugs.”

And you can too. All you have to do is ask.

xoxo 😘

Rae

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Blueberry Chia & Coconut Flour Muffins 🙌🏼

Blueberry Chia & Coconut Flour Muffins 🙌🏼

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Blueberries getting too soft gave me a good excuse to bake yesterday! 😉

I had some coconut flour on hand, so I just googled “blueberry coconut flour muffins.” I found a great recipe on the kingarthurflour.com site, and made a few changes. Because why not get fancy?

I swapped butter for coconut oil, and instead of sacrificing three of my eggs, I whipped up an egg substitute with chia seeds and water. I had both butter and eggs, but I’ve seen other recipes where people used these swaps and thought it might be cool to give it a shot. These muffins are gluten-free, dairy-free, and paleo-friendly by coincidence!

Blueberry Chia & Coconut Muffins

Ingredients:

1/4 cup coconut flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

3 eggs, “chia eggs,” or “flax eggs”

3 tbsp honey

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

3 tbsp coconut oil (melted)

Makes 6 muffins 😊

–> If you’re game, go ahead and preheat your oven to 400F.

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Egg substitute: 1 egg = 1 tbsp chia or flax seeds, ground, + 3 tbsp water. This is referred to as 1 “chia egg” or 1 “flax egg.”

I ground up 3 tbsp of chia seeds in my blender, and then soaked them with 9 tbsp of water for about 10 minutes. The seeds develop a texture similar to that of an egg, and function similarly during baking. Now, I can save those 3 eggs for yummy omelets. #Efficient since I have to use up all these chia seeds somehow!

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And the omelet was super yummy with one of my muffins and some sautéed baby kale 🍃

Chia and flax seeds are full of healthy fats, like ALA – an Omega-3 fatty acid family member that’s good for brain health, even helping to prevent conditions such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, and depression. ALA is not as biologically active (efficiently used by the body) as Omega 3’s like DHA and EPA that are found in seafood, however – so if we really want to keep our brains healthy, we’ll have chia seeds at breakfast and fish at dinner (whenever we can – ideal would be a couple times per week! You can also take a fish oil supplement, which is what I’ve been doing lately 😊🐟 It may be just a placebo effect, but I feel like it’s improved my joint health as well).

Back to baking – while the chia seeds were soaking, I went ahead and sprayed 6 cups of this muffin tin lightly with some PAM. You could use butter, coconut oil, or any other spray you like.

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Then I mixed the coconut flour and baking powder together in one bowl, and the “chia eggs,” vanilla, salt, honey and melted coconut oil in another, and combined. After mixing the batter just until smooth, I rolled the blueberries in a little coconut flour (keeps them from sinking) and folded them into the batter. This was actually tough because the batter was super thick! But it works.

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It’ll be about a play-dough like consistency if you use the chia eggs. If you’re going for it guys, portion all your batter into half the muffin tin, and add any blueberries that didn’t mix in well to the top.

Bake for 20 minutes or until tops and sides appear golden and a knife or toothpick comes out clean.

IMG_4369That’s it! Let em cool, and then flip your tin over with a cutting board underneath to remove muffins easily without them falling apart.

You can keep them in the fridge after you sample one, and they’re great reheated for 15 seconds in the microwave. If you’re feeling fancy, throw a little almond, cashew, or peanut butter on top before microwaving. YUM!

My takeaway here is that there’s always a way to use what you have! Overripe fruit? Just ask google 👀

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Keep your eyes open for my next post – it’s one I’ve been working on for a while, and you’re not gonna wanna miss it. I am seriously so excited to finally put it out for y’all.

Much love,

Rae

Fail-proof Roasted Veggies 🥕

Fail-proof Roasted Veggies 🥕

Hey fam 😊

Hope you’re loving summer, wherever your summer might have landed you!

If there’s one summer meal must-have, it’s grilled fish. Or grilled chicken wings. Or, grilled anything. If there’s two – oven-roasted veggies are going on at the same time.


I’d like to let you in on the secret to perfect roasted veggies, because I feel like it’s a complete game-changer. If you already know about this, you know exactly what I mean. And once you’ve got a method you like, it’s easier to want to try different veggies and easily bring a lot more variety to your plate.

Who ever thought asparagus could look so tempting? 👀


Ok. Here’s the classic “recipe” –

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You’ll need:

  • An oven
  • A baking sheet, or pan of any kind
  • A spatula
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Veggies (carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes asparagus, broccoli, etc.)
  • Other spices/parmesan (optional)

Start by preheating your oven to “bake” around 375 F, or a little hotter for potatoes. Maybe 425. You’ll figure out what works best for your oven/each veggie pretty quickly, but you can always cook longer or less depending on how toasty you want them to look!

Wash up your veggies if they’re fresh – use a scrubber to get all that dirt off 😝

(This works great with frozen veggies as well! Just pour them right outta the bag onto the pan.)

If you’re using potatoes or something bigger like that, you can chop them into thin strips, little wedges, chunks, “fries” – whatever!

The fun part- drizzle a little olive oil all over your pan of veggies. About a tablespoon for a decent-sized tray, or just enough to lightly coat the veggies.

The good fats in olive oil help us absorb more of the vitamins and minerals in veggies, so it’s a win-win for taste and nutrition.

Then, hit em with a few pinches of salt. Sea salt, pink salt, whatever! You can add other spices if you have some you really like. If you’re roasting sweet potatoes or butternut squash, you could skip the salt and add cinnamon. But they’re good salted too!

P.S. – If you’re watching your sodium, either a) measure the total amount of salt you use and make sure you don’t consume more of a serving than you need, or b) substitute other spices or one of Mrs. Dash’s salt-free seasonings. Or skip it all together, because just the olive oil will make these pretty darn good.

Once you get ready, stick your pan in the oven! You should do this about 1 hour before you wanna eat.

Cook 25-30 minutes, pull the tray out (with hot pads!), flip all the veggies over with a spatula, and cook 25-30 more.

If you wanna add some Parmesan, pull the tray out again with 10-15 minutes to go and sprinkle some on. This is especially great on green veggies like asparagus or broccoli! 😊

And after about an hour, here’s your final product!


Veggies should be crisp and lightly browned. YUM 👅

Temperature, time, etc. are totally modifiable to suit different ovens, vegetables, and tastes – but this should be a good outline to cooking veggies well. It’s hard to mess up – and if you turn the oven light on, set a timer, and stay nearby, you’re not likely to!

It’s also a nice method because you can put these in, forget about them until your timer goes off and it’s time to flip, and use that time to get the rest of your meal ready. Or, if you have some chicken or something already cooked, you can roast these and keep studying or cleaning or whatever, heat up the other stuff in the good old ‘wave, and you’ve got a super low-maintenance but awesome dinner.

This method has also been known to win over even the pickiest of veggie eaters, because it makes them taste super crispy like french fries 🍟

Hope you love ’em!

If you have (or find) a favorite roasted veggie or a favorite spice to add, let us know in the comments below!

xoxo 😘 Stay bright!

Rae